The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) are celebrating September as “Virginia Spirits Month.”
The designation recognizes the commonwealth’s rich history of spirits and spotlights more than 100 licensed distilleries that call the state home.
The commonwealth is described as the birthplace of American spirits. In 1620, during the early Jamestown settlement days, George Thorpe – after being introduced to corn by the regional indigenous people – used the crop in place of barley to distill the first batch of American whiskey.
Virginia’s own George Washington went on to become the biggest producer of Virginia whiskey during his time.
“We are proud to support a wealth of talented distilleries that continue Virginia’s long and storied history of spirits by offering a range of selections from bourbon to vodka to moonshine,” said Virginia ABC CEO Travis Hill. “This is an important time for us to further celebrate our Virginia-made spirits that have received local, statewide, national and global acclaim.”
Virginia’s distilled-spirits industry is a major contributor to the commonwealth’s economy, state officials note. In the most recent data, the industry maintained nearly 1,500 full-time jobs and had an annual economic impact of more than $163 million. Virginia distilleries also have become popular agritourism destinations, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
Virginia distillers source more than 70percent of their ingredients from Virginia farms, including corn, wheat, barley, rye, potatoes and fruits. Distillers in the state also source finishing components such as new barrels and bottles.
“Virginia’s agricultural and forestry industries play an important role in the production of Virginia distilled spirits. Many Virginia distilleries invest in local farms by purchasing grains and fruits from local producers and by providing spent mash to farmers for feed and fertilizer,” said VDACS Commissioner Joseph Guthrie. “Distillers are also purchasing barrel wood components that originate from Virginia’s forests.”
Virginia ABC is presenting “Virginia Spirits Sale-A-Bration” throughout Sept. 30. Customers can save 20 percent on 132 select Virginia-made products.
For more information on Virginia Spirits Month and Virginia-made products, see the Website at https://www.abc.virginia.gov/products/virginia-products.