Made in Virginia 2012: Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky, Sperryville

Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky 

Wasmund’s

Barrels of Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky

“Our product is all Virginia-Made,” Rick Wasmund says of the unique whiskies that he and his six employees brew at the Copper Fox Distillery, situated two miles from Shenandoah National Park in Sperryville.

Wasmund, 53, explains that the strain of barley he uses was developed at Virginia Tech’s seed development farm and is grown by a Northern Neck farmer. “We harvest the local apple and cherry trees. And the barrels we use are old Virginia Gentleman barrels. So it’s that much of a spirit of Virginia.”

More than a decade ago, the former insurance agent had the bright idea of using smoked fruit trees to flavor whisky. “Most malt in the U.S. is not smoked,” he says. “I went over to Scotland and did an internship and learned how to make whisky there.” Armed with the basics, he began experimenting—not only using smoked applewood on the front end of the process but aging the whisky with it when it’s barreled.

The result is Wasmund’s Single Malt, which is now available in 20 states, including all ABC stores in Virginia; 15% of their output goes to discerning sippers overseas. “The fact that we malt our own barley is unique in North America,” he points out. “It’s very labor intensive; Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and others buy their malt from big commercial maltsters.”

Visitors who take tours of the distillery—an 8,000-square-foot barn that used to be an apple juice plant—are treated to a pleasant aroma and much activity. One side of the building makes up the malting area where a large section of the floor is reserved for spreading out watered-down barley, which is regularly raked to allow the starch to turn into sugar. “The production area where we cook, with the stills and the fermentation, is on the other side, and that carries into our bottling and barreling room … so it’s all one big line.”  

Wasmund recently bought the building next door to expand production. A few years ago, Copper Fox also began making a special blend of rye that has since earned a first place prize from the Beverage Tasting Institute. “It’s the only rye that has that smoked component,” he says with pride. Wasmund’s whiskies retail for around $36 a bottle. CopperFox.biz

View All the Made in Virginia Awards 2012 Winners:

SPORT

Six-Eleven Bicycle Co., Roanoke

Lowell Haarer Flintlock Rifles, Linville

Release Reels, Reedville

FOOD

Leaping Waters Farm Geese, Alleghany Springs

Gearharts Chocolates, Richmond & Charlottesville

Hubs Sweet Heat Peanuts, Sedley

FASHION

Pinnell Custom Leather, Crozet

Chamblin Design Jewelry, Richmond

Ignatius Hats, Petersburg

DRINK

Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky, Sperryville

Legend Brewery Brown Ale, Richmond

Foggy Ridge Cider, Dugspur

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