Story by Liesel Schmidt
Photography by Jeff Heeney, Ali Jalil & Kenny Walters
There’s something incredible about handmade spirits; the quality ingredients, the time, the attention to detail and the dedication to exceptional flavor. For Catoctin Creek Distilling Co., those four tenets define every bottle of the rye whiskey they produce from start to finish.
In an effort to widen their reach and broaden their impact on the industry, Catoctin Creek held a competition across the four major metropolitan areas of DC, New York City, Denver and Miami/Tampa Bay to find the very best of the best bartenders who could create magic using Catoctin Creek’s offerings. “We were really looking to find the best representation of what the trade could do with Catoctin Creek,” says national sales manager Dean Caplan.
Taking the victory home to their cities were Megan Marshall of the Mayfly in New York City, Angela Wood of Gallery Chophouse in Tampa, Elena Johnson of B Side in Baltimore and Jorge Ortega of Welton Room in Denver. Claiming their crowns after the March competition, the winners—one from each of the four chosen metro areas—were brought to Alexandria in August to get the full experience of just what makes Catoctin Creek the quality product it is.
“We brought them in for a distillery tour and had them participate in the entire process, walking them through the steps of malting and mashing, fermentation and distillation and having them test the whiskey during distillation,” Caplan says. “We had them fill the barrels and even had them participate in barrel sampling to ensure that everything was on point with flavor and quality. All of that really gave them greater insight into what we do and a stronger understanding of where everything comes from.”
“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet these very talented people and introduce them to what Catoctin Creek looks like from the community perspective right here in Alexandria. Happy hours and dinners are great, but it was hanging out with them and just having fun in the city I love that really showed off what Catoctin Creek is truly all about.” - John Shope, Virginia Sales Manager
During their time in Alexandria, the winners were taken to Bastille Brasserie & Bar, where their Catoctin Creek hosts showed them the power of a best-in-class partnership with their selection of amazing craft cocktails and spirits. Moving to dinner at Virtue Feed & Grain, they were again given a taste of the strength of partnership with best-in-class venues as they sampled the restaurant’s exceptional food and their highlighted cocktail of the month. “We wanted them to get a real glimpse of Alexandria and what we have to offer here,” Caplan says.
“We wanted them to get a real glimpse of Alexandria and what we have to offer here." -Dean Caplan National Sales Manager
“We’re always hoping to share the heartbeat of the best Virginia spirits and this competition was our way of accomplishing that,” he continues. “We gained four lifelong advocates for Catoctin Creek and gave them a greater understanding of Virginia spirits. We also had the opportunity to showcase Virginia rye whiskey across the country.”
Upcoming holiday offerings include a Black Friday release of the newest addition to their malt series in collaboration with a local brewery, available locally. For more information, visit www.buyvirginiarye.com and sign up for their email list. Various events will also be held throughout Virginia, Maryland and DC.