Sunday, September 11, 2011

Catoctin Creek Mosby's Spirit

As far as I know, Catoctin Creek Distillery, in Purcellville, Virginia, is the closest whiskey distillery to my house -- less than sixty miles. What with one thing and another, though, I haven't had a chance to head out there for a tour.

But I was able to meet Catoctin Creek's owner Scott Harris at a tasting he held in a liquor store in Washington, DC, last weekend. I tasted the range: Mosby's Spirit, their unaged whiskey; Roundstone Rye, their aged whiskey; and Watershed Gin, their gin (about which all I'll say, as someone who hates gin, is that it tastes like gin). (They also make grape and pear brandies -- only in September, in fact -- but didn't have any on hand.)

The three liquors are all related, in that they all come from the same 100% rye mash. Mosby's Spirit is the heart, Roundstone Rye is what Mosby's Spirit becomes after four months in 30-gallon white oak barrels, and Watershed Gin is a redistillation of the tail with their own blend of botanicals.

I had told myself, as I was driving to the tasting, that I wouldn't be buying anything, but I didn't really believe me. More surprising, when I left with a bottle, is that I left with a bottle of Mosby's Spirit, rather than of Roundstone Rye. Although more often than not I'd probably rather have a Roundstone, I think Mosby's Spirit is more interesting as a white whiskey than Roundstone is as a rye.

Mosby's Spirit (named in honor of Col. James S. Mosby) has a sharp, floral nose, with a bit of vanilla and a bit of household cleaner. It's very smooth on the palate, like a grain vodka with rye and pepper. The finish is smooth and short, with rye sounding the last note.

I've tried it in a few cocktails -- the Cactoctin Creek crew recommended using it like a vodka -- but, so far, I prefer drinking it neat.

I did pour much of my bottle into a Bell jar with blackberries and sugar; I hope to have some blackberry dew ready for Christmas. Coincidentally, Catoctin Creek promises that fruit liqueurs are coming soon.

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