Breweries make beer, Wineries make wine, cideries make hard cider, and Distilleries make distilled spirits. For years wineries, followed more recently by breweries and cideries, have been prominent in Central Virginia. Distilleries in this area however have always been rare. This is due in part to the smaller market for “hard liquor” but mostly due to the multilayered regulations imposed on the distilled spirits industry. Savvy, discerning consumers and the recent surge in small, craft operations have opened the door to small craft distillers like Woods Mill and the up and coming agri-tourism market in Nelson County.
Distillation is a process to separate fluids uses varying thermal properties. In the case of Woods Mill Distillery, we apply heat to a mixture of water and alcohol. We start with a liquid containing sugar (such as apple juice) or starch (in the case of a grain mash). We use fermentation procedures much like wineries, breweries and cideries to develop a low alcohol liquid we call a wash. This would be where those businesses stop their process and perhaps begin aging. Woods Mill Distillery however, is just getting started. We apply heat to encourage the alcohol to convert to a gas leaving behind the yet-to-boil water. We collect that distillate and do it again. This concentrates and purifies the alcohol into stronger and stronger beverages. We have worked to tailor this process to yield the highest and most pure spirit while still holding on to the flavors of the grain or fruit, with which we begin.
Only at at Virginia ABC Store. Virginia is what is known in the spirits industry as a “Control State”. This means that the sale of distilled spirits is largely limited to Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Retail centers (ABC Stores). There is a process which allows certain distilleries to apply to become limited ABC retail centers for their product. Woods Mill is moving toward that ability and will hopefully soon be able to sell our Spirits at our distillery here in Nelson County. But for now, please visit one of the Virginia ABC Stores listed in our “Where to Buy” section.
No. It is important to realize, we are not moonshiners. There are some very interesting and quite tasty moonshine products in this area and those distillers are often quite skilled at their craft. There are also some makers which are less skilled and products of lesser or even questionable quality. Whatever their quality, they are all illegal. So while there exists a rich history of moonshining throughout Virginia, modern legal distilleries bear little resemblance to the legend and lore of moonshiners. Moonshine is quite simply, illicitly distilled spirits. With the regulations in place governing this industry by the Federal Tax & Trade Bureau of the ATF and the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Commission (VABC) among others, a spirits producer is quite simply either a legal distiller or a moonshiner. His product, whatever its specifics, is similarly defined.
We think so. Again, Moonshine is quite simply, illicitly distilled spirits. As a practical matter, moonshine is a distilled spirit and can be produced using any source of sugar including grains, fruits, vegetables and most often bulk sugar. It is usually a “new make spirit” (unaged) and privately sold in large quantities (gallons or quarts). Further, moonshiners typically use a single pot still with direct fire and a doubler (thumper) to increase the alcohol content. On the other hand, Woods Mill uses fruits and grains (depending on the season) with no added sugar, and distills using steam jacketed pot stills (to avoid burned flavors) in a double distillation method (two separate runs through the stills). We take extraordinary measures to keep only the best of our distilled spirits and offer a hand crafted, all natural, “Virginia Only” spirit. Most of our spirits are aged or softened in Oak casks and all adhere to Federal Standards of Identity codes for whiskies and brandies. When you purchase a Woods Mill product you will know not only is it tested for strength and purity in accordance with Federal standards, and reviewed by Virginia regulatory authorities for proper production and labeling, but also handcrafted with pride to the highest standards of the industry and traditions of Virginia.