Just because we Richmonders are responsibly social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t also have a little fun. Lucky for us, the Virginia ABC has made that a lot easier. Under COVID-19 emergency orders, ABC is allowing distilleries in the commonwealth to both ship and hand-deliver bottles of their spirits to our doors for the first time.
This means RVA drinks enthusiasts who miss visiting their local distillery can just hop online and buy their favorite booze directly. So far, Virginia distillers have been enjoying this newfound freedom just as much as consumers.
“We had our best week since we opened because of direct-to-consumer shipping,” said Gareth Moore, CEO of Virginia Distillery Co. located in Lovingston.
Moore, who also currently serves as the president of the Virginia Distillery Association, hopes the shipping privileges will be extended beyond the crisis. Local on-demand delivery from distilleries has already been made permanent, but shipping allows rural distilleries like Moore’s to have more direct access to larger urban markets, such as Richmond.
“Given the demand we’ve seen, we hope there are ways to continue it beyond the current pandemic,” Moore said. “The proof is in the pudding that consumers like it.”
In the meantime, Richmonders can enjoy this new access and use it to spice up their quarantine life. Here are the spirits — from RVA and beyond — that you could be drinking while stuck at home.
Virginia Distillery Co.’s Courage & Conviction: Despite the less-than-ideal timing, Virginia Distillery Co. released its long-anticipated Courage & Conviction in April. This American single malt whiskey — the first flagship single malt the distillery was able to distill and age entirely on-premise — should impress even the most dedicated Scotch aficionado.
The widely variant Virginia climate allows Courage & Conviction, aged for three years in bourbon, sherry and cuvée casks, to mature more quickly than its Scottish counterparts.
Subtle hints of butterscotch and vanilla blend with alluring spice notes, ending in a pleasingly smooth — almost creamy — finish. This Virginia single malt can take pride of place on your home liquor shelf.
Virago Spirits’ Modern Gin with Oolong Tea: Gin-and-tonic season is nearly upon us, even if your main outside time these days is a trip to your front porch. Right on cue, Richmond’s Virago Spirits helps you avoid G&T monotony with this flavorful and unique spirit.
In addition to oolong tea, it features flavors of peppercorn, lemongrass and zesty grapefruit, making it far more interesting than your average run-of-the-mill gin. Bonus tip: Have it with Richmond’s Navy Hill tonic to really elevate your cocktail game.
Belle Isle Craft Spirits’ Black Label: If you’re in search of a more unusual alternative to vodka, look no further than Richmond’s Belle Isle Craft Spirits. Made from 100% organic corn, Belle Isle’s unaged corn whiskey offerings are more sophisticated than the kitschy moonshines found in most liquor stores — and are smooth enough to work well in pretty much any vodka-based cocktail. From its traditional Black Label moonshine to flavored options, such as Cold Brew Coffee, you won’t lack for choices.
And if you’re looking for easy non-beer options at your next socially distant (and family-only) backyard barbecue, Belle Isle also recently debuted a line of premium canned cocktails, featuring flavors such as Blood Orange and Soda.
Silverback Distillery’s Blackback Honey Rye: Desiring a playful spin on America’s true historic spirit to sip after a long day of working from home? Silverback Distillery in Afton has your back: The distillery’s Blackback Honey Rye blends Nelson County honey into rye whiskey, providing a deep but sweet spirit that is perfect for sipping during a quarantine Netflix binge.
Silverback’s Strange Monkey Gin is another excellent choice that has received numerous awards and critical acclaim. Even gin skeptics can be won over by the spirit’s bright citrus notes that counterbalance the juniper flavors so prevalent in many gins.
Whether you are bored or find yourself going stir crazy at home in the coming days, any of these spirits will provide a ready-made distraction. And best of all, they can bring a little cheer during the numerous weeks of social distancing still ahead of us.