Straight up: Distillery construction begins in Nelson County

dish-whiskeyOf course, ââ?¬Ë?stills are nothing new in Nelson County; but a legal one producing the county’s first authentic 'Scottish' single malt whiskey might be. This summer, the Virginia Distillery Company will begin construction on the new 24,000 square-foot facility on a 95-acre site at Eades Hollow in Lovingston, complete with authentic Scottish copper stills and mash tuns.

“Our vision is to make the finest malt whisky possible right here in Virginia,” says Company Chairman Brian Gray. “To accomplish that we’ve invested in authentic equipment and brought in experts from the distilling industry.”

Indeed, the company has signed on a bona fide Scotsman, whiskey legend Jim McEwan, one of Scotland’s most famous small batch malt whiskey makers. Last year, McEwan received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Scottish Whisky Industry, and he has been recognized as Distiller of the Year three times.

“Our plan is to make Eades Hollow into a destination distillery,” says Gray. “We’re going to conduct tours so that people can watch us turn barley, yeast, and water into Virginia Single Malt Whisky.”

Once completed, the distillery will turn 24 tons of malted barley into 1,700 liters of new whiskey every week. Up to six warehouses will hold casks that will age for four years, some batches even longer. The company also plans to build a welcome center, an indoor events center, and a space to hold concerts and other events outside.

Gray says the distillery is scheduled to be completed in early 2011.

In the meantime, you’ll find Eades Double Malt Whiskey locally in many of the ABC stores in town. In fact, as part of legislation passed earlier this year, ABC stores can now offer in-store tastings. This Friday, July 9, there will be one at the ABC store at Pantops Shopping Center from 5:30 to 7:30pm. On Saturday, July 10 there’s one at Kroger from 12pm to 2pm. And there will also be one at the West Main ABC on Friday, July 16 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.