Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Malting and Smoking at Copper Fox Distillery

Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, VA is the producer of Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky. Rick Wasmund's operation was profiled in the Free Lance-Star recently. The former financial planner has been distilling in Sperryville since 2005. In the newspaper article, and accompanying video, Wasmund explains his traditional, by-hand methods. What I found most interesting was his comments on the malting process.
"We're the only distillery in North America that malts its own barley," says Wasmund. "And we do it the traditional way."

Wasmund uses a strain of barley called 'Thoroughbred' that was developed by Virginia Tech. He buys his grain exclusively from a Northern Neck farmer named Billy Dawson, who has an operation at Heathsville.

Not only does Wasmund malt his own barley, using apple and cherry wood smoke, he also buys his grain locally. I talked to a brewer last Spring who was interested in brewing with locally grown barley, which I thought was an interesting idea. I'm not aware of any local craft beer brewers who take on the malting process themselves. That would certainly add a local flavor aspect to the brewing process.

Read the Free Lance-Star profile of Rick Wasmund and Copper Fox Distillery here.


  1. I think the local brewer you are talking about got his hands on the malt. Roy gave me a couple punds and I used it in a porter I made--you had it. While the grain was smoked, I was disapointed with the flavor (or lack there of) it imparted.

  2. Thanks for the info.

    The brewer I am thinking of is a commercial brewer, but that's interesting news anyway. I'm all for local ingredients.

  3. Kudos to Rick for the extra effort put into his work. I'd be interested in looking into his whisky to get an idea of what kind of flavours could be expected. Aside from a local brewer using the malts, it could be interesting to have a collaboration where the barrels are used in a limited batch brewing of a nice Stout, Porter, or perhaps a good Scottish Ale!


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