Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Moonshine. Almost.

If you think the Washington, DC sprawl has completely taken over Northern Virginia, you need to get a little farther off the beltway and see that is not true, and see some remaining rural Virginia.IMG_0036

Out in Culpeper you will find a different world, and one of my favorite stops is the Belmont Farm Distillery.  This is not not a snooty or pretentious place, it is an old farm still.  Inspected, legal, taxed and regulated- but a farm still nonetheless. 

store3Their signature beverage isn’t pretentious either, the label proudly boasts the aging- less than 30 days.  “Virginia Lightning Whiskey”.  It is a traditional corn whiskey, (moonshine, but it is illegal to call it that) distilled in sanitary and safe equipment (no lead-laden automobile radiators here), and cut to 100 proof (Virginia legal limit) with thoroughly purified water.  The whiskey comes out of the still around 180 proof, so it must have pure water added to reduce the alcohol content to legal levels.  Pure corn whiskey will become cloudy if you add water with any impurities, so Belmont has a very high-tech water filtration plant to provide the needed clean water.  The result is much smoother than “real” moonshine, but it still has a bit of an edge to it.  Maybe more than a bit of an edge.

They also make an aged whiskey, this ages in oak barrels for two years (although they now have some three-year old whiskey).  It won’t be mistaken for a 21-year old bottle of Scotch, but I expect it to mature as they have more in the barrels for a longer period of time.


On a trip out to Belmont Farm from the DC area you will see the clash of cultures, old Virginia farm communities and the suburban sprawl of “greater” Washington, DC.  It is good to see some of the old ways hanging on, and some even thriving.

You can also buy their products in some liquor stores, but I recommend stopping in for a tour and visit if you are in the area.