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Copper Fox Distillery History

The story of Copper Fox Distillery begins many years ago with how much the owner Rick Wasmund loved the smell of burning wood, his discovery that he wanted something that did not exist, and the revelation that he could make a great American Single Malt Whisky!!

As a kid, he was in charge of collecting firewood and building the campfires on family camping trips. Later, when building fires for warmth and cooking, he became more aware of the aromatic properties of different woods and the different flavors of wood smoke when used for grilling.

When he was a little older, he discovered whisky tasting events with his dad, and fell in love with Scotch Whisky; especially the peaty kind, partly because of the smell of the smoked peat and partly because of the rich fruitiness of the malted barley. He wondered…. how might whisky
taste if the barley was flavored with fruitwood smoke instead of peat? He began to search for a flavor that he soon discovered did not exist.

He became obsessed with the idea and his search eventually led him to Scotland and an offer to intern at Bowmore Distillery where he bunked in a barn and learned the traditional art of floor malting barley.

It was then that he had the revelation that he could make a great American Single Malt Whisky! He was encouraged to “just go do it lad!” and the birth of Copper Fox Distillery is the result of that idea.

Upon his return from Scotland, he began the search for a location and invited family and friends to invest and be a part of his dream. The first location in Sperryville at 9 River Lane, sits on the banks of the Thornton River in the spectacular foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Sperryville location is a converted cider mill that was constructed by the Rappahannock Co- operative Fruit Growers in 1936. During the mid to late 1930s, apple juice and apple products were produced and sold under the brand names Skyline Drive and Red Creek, but by the late 1970s, the demand for local apples diminished and the facility was sold. He purchased the
building on January 1, 2005, and ironically, the distillery building remains a “juice plant”, with a continuing emphasis on local apples!

Copper Fox started out as a small family operation with just Rick, Helen, and Rick's partner Sean, managing all aspects of production and sales for the first seven years.

With a growing need for additional malting, distilling, and storage capacity, Rick purchased the former Lord Paget Motor Inn complex from the City of Williamsburg in March 2015. Located at 901 Capitol Landing Road on the edge of Colonial Williamsburg, our newest venture sprawls across a historic 6-acre plot and includes 9 buildings, a built-in swimming pool, and a freshwater pond. The Lord Paget Motel was built in 1952 and was family-owned and operated until 2007. In its heyday, it was described as a “modern yet traditional” family-friendly motor lodge located in a quiet park-like setting less than one mile from the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center. Since acquiring the property in 2015, 7 of the 9 buildings have been renovated and converted for distillery operations and opened to the public for distillery tours, tastings, events, and retail sales in July 2016. Renovation to the remaining two buildings is in progress.

The distillery tour includes a walking tour through the property for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the production areas where you will learn about distillery production and how they handcraft great whisky!

When Rick started his flavor journey, Copper Fox was the first distillery in North America to build a malt floor and kiln post- Prohibition and they continue to malt, distill, age, bottle, and hand label all of their products at the distilleries in Sperryville and Williamsburg.
Their commitment to consistency and quality starts with locally sourced grains and partnerships with local farmers. The Thoroughbred 6-row barley used for Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky, Copper Fox Rye Whisky and Vir Gin, and the Endeavor 2-row barley preferred by breweries were developed at Virginia Tech and all of the grains they use are grown on the fertile fields of Virginia Northern Neck.

You will see how they floor malt all of the barley in the traditional style. This hands-on technique allows the production team to develop and maintain a connection to the grain throughout the entire production process.

The real innovation begins in the kiln, where locally harvested cherrywood, applewood, and
peachwood are used to gently smoke and dry the grain. After learning about the malting,
smoking, and drying of the grain, you will see the fermentation process and where the spirit is distilled in custom-built copper pot stills.

The spirit is then matured in barrels with hand-cut toasted fruitwood which further enhances the flavor of the smoky malt. This signature aging process continues to them apart from others.

After your tour, enjoy a whisky flight or a seasonally handcrafted cocktail in the speakeasy
lounge or relax in one of the outdoor patio gardens. If you discovered a new favorite whisky, don’t forget to take a bottle home. Distribution outside of Virginia is limited.

Drink Williamsburg Tours

We typically meet at Amber Ox Public House. 

525 Prince George St Suite 102, Williamsburg, VA 23185

Tickets can be purchased online!