Made in Virginia 2019 Awards: Drink Winners

24 products made by skilled, enthusiastic, and creative Virginians.

Swallowtail Tea Masala Chai, Stable Craft Brewing Vexatious Honey IPA, Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Co. vintage oyster can coffee, and Alexander Brothers key chain bottle opener (a Home & Lifestyle winner).

Photography by Fred + Elliott

Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Co.

Vintage Oyster Can Coffee, Eastville

Inspiration struck Kristen Willis while she was visiting a friend on the Eastern Shore. “Vintage oyster cans are a huge collectible here,” she says. “I was sitting in a house surrounded by all these cool old cans on display.” Willis, who founded Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Co. with her husband Jamie in 2006, thought that those popular antiques could also hold coffee. She painstakingly recreated two of the historical labels with a coffee theme—pictures of shells became images of beans; “fresh shucked, keep refrigerated” became “fresh roasted, keep sealed.” When ESCR first offered any of its 12 house blends inside the redesigned vintage oyster cans during the 2017 holiday season, they were so popular that they decided to carry them again seasonally the next year and then made them a permanent offering in 2019. “Like the oysters that used to be in these cans,” says Willis, “our coffee is fresh and local—a true representation of our entire Chesapeake Bay.”

Staff Notes: “This is so smooth and delicious! I always put cream in my coffee, but I could drink this black, which is the ultimate compliment.”

$15.95. CoastalRoast.com

Stable Craft Brewing

Vexatious Honey IPA, Waynesboro

The story of Stable Craft Brewing’s Vexatious Honey IPA starts in the home kitchen of head brewer Isaac Peglow. In 2014, he developed an IPA recipe using Belgian sugar—one of his first home-brewed beers. Five years later, he replaced that sugar with wildflower honey from Waynesboro-based Bubba’s Sweet Nectar. “The pilot batch sold like hotcakes in the tasting room,” says Peglow. Now, Vexatious Honey will be a standard part of Stable Craft’s spring and summer seasonal offerings (though it is available year-round in 2019). If you’re an IPA fan, don’t be put off by the name: “It has a little honey flavor,” says Peglow, “but not necessarily a lot of sweetness. It still has that big bold bitterness of a classic American IPA.” 

Staff Notes: “I don’t usually drink IPAs, but the hint of honey makes me actually able to enjoy it. Winner!”

$7.99-$9.99/6-pack. StableCraftBrewing.com

Swallowtail Tea

Masala Chai, Floyd

While developing Swallowtail Tea’s masala chai blend, Director of Tea David Grimsley faced a conundrum: How do you make something better without changing it? Prior to its founding in 2016, Swallowtail’s sister company, Red Rooster Coffee, had served its own version of the masala blend. “Long-time tea drinkers are expecting a specific type of tea when they think of an Indian masala blend,” says Grimsley, “and the old version had quite a following.” To enhance that recipe, he added local ginger from Riverstone Organic Farms in Floyd. “It really gave it a backbone,” he says. “It changed the dynamic of the tea altogether.” Now, his masala chai is a beloved Swallowtail staple. The company has even begun producing a nitro chai version served cold from a keg, with fine nitrogen bubbles that lend the drink a soft and creamy mouthfeel.

Staff Notes: “Mild, perfectly balanced spices make this a go-to drink for winter mornings.”

$15.99. SwallowtailTea.com

Tarnished Truth Spirits Fourth Handle Coastal American Gin, Three Crosses Distilling Co. American Whiskey, and True Heritage wines.

Tarnished Truth Spirits

Fourth Handle Coastal American Gin, Virginia Beach

In the Roaring 20s, bathtubs in the Cavalier Hotel had four taps: hot, cold, shower, and salt water—pumped in directly from the ocean (people thought it was good for their skin). Tarnished Truth Spirits, located inside the recently renovated hotel, decided to pay homage to that extra tap when it created its Fourth Handle Coastal American Gin. “That ocean water was an extra level of opulence and experience for guests,” says co-owner Andrew Yancey. “It represents that extra level of work and care we put into this gin.” Yancey calls Fourth Handle a passion project of distiller and chemist Justin Boyle. Tarnished Truth began by distilling 30 different botanicals individually, then testing and combining them all until it had decided on the eight in the final product. “We wanted to create our own style of gin,” says Yancey, “one that’s light, floral, and approachable for people who don’t think they like gin. When people ask about Fourth Handle, I say ‘Are you a gin drinker? You will be.’” 

Staff Notes: “Gorgeous bottle, smooth, very herbal … Yes!”

$34.89. TarnishedTruth.com

Three Crosses Distilling Co.

American Whiskey, Powhatan

John Davenport has distilling in his blood. “Growing up, my great uncle was a bootlegger, and local farmers always turned what was left of the crop into something that didn’t spoil,” he says. His own distilling days didn’t start until his wife Michelle bought him a 1-gallon home still. Soon, he upgraded to a 5-gallon still, then a 13-gallon still, then a 25-gallon still. “Then she told me to get it out of the house,” says Davenport. So he went professional. The Davenports founded Three Crosses Distilling in 2018 and now produce five different spirits (just one of which is moonshine). To make its American Whiskey, Three Crosses uses the solera aging process, which has been used for hundreds of years for other spirits like sherry or Scotch, but is unusual in the U.S. Barrels are stacked from oldest whiskey on bottom to youngest on top. As a portion of the oldest liquor is removed for bottling, part of each young batch is then moved down to blend with its older counterparts. The process makes for a consistent product and a smooth whiskey—no bootlegging required.

Staff Notes: “Super smooth. The best hard drink I’ve tried today. Would recommend to someone else and buy it for myself!”

$38.99. ThreeCrossesDistilling.com

True Heritage

2017 Chardonnay, Viognier, and Petit Verdot, Keswick

True Heritage was founded to address a very specific problem: Virginia wine is (almost) too popular. In 2014, Veritas Vineyards was struggling to keep up with demand, particularly because it was difficult to find in-state grape growers. “We’re dedicated to making true Virginia wines, so we need Virginia grapes,” says George Hodson, CEO of Veritas. So he and sister and winemaker Emily Pelton partnered with two historic Virginia estates to pioneer a new model. Castalia and Ben Coolyn farms are not just suppliers—they are full partners in a new standalone wine business: True Heritage wines. The inaugural 2017 vintage is available for purchase this year in three varietals: Chardonnay, Viognier, and Petit Verdot. Hodson particularly likes the Petit Verdot. “It’s a Bordeaux grape—one of the granddaddies of them all—but very few places make it as a single varietal instead of in blends,” he says. “It’s a really well-balanced red. It is the perfect expression of wine coming out of Virginia.” 

Staff Notes: “Very drinkable, and the label is beautiful. In a side-by-side tasting of varietals, these were by far the best!”

$20-$28. TrueHeritage.com


Meet the other winners of our Made in Virginia 2019 Awards:

Food

Home & Lifestyle

Style & Beauty


Click here to meet the 2018 winners.

Click here to meet the 2017 winners.

Click here to meet the 2016 winners.

Click here to meet the 2015 winners.

Click here to meet the 2014 winners.

Click here to meet the 2013 winners.

Click here to meet the 2012 winners.


The Made in Virginia 2019 Awards were selected by the Virginia Living editors and originally appeared in our December 2019 issue. Look for these and other products made in Virginia in the Virginia Living Store

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