Virginia Distillery Company debuts in Lovingston and more local restaurant news

Virginia Distilery Company CEO Gareth Moore and his wife, Maggie, hope to expand their tasting menu in the visitor center to include clear spirits as well their Virginia Highland malt whiskey. Photo: Rammelkamp foto Virginia Distilery Company CEO Gareth Moore and his wife, Maggie, hope to expand their tasting menu in the visitor center to include clear spirits as well their Virginia Highland malt whiskey. Photo: Rammelkamp foto

Virginia Distillery Company debuts in Lovingston

The selection of locally made booze you can sniff, swirl and sample in Nelson County continues to grow. If you’re in the area tasting beer, cider, wine, gin, vodka or moonshine, now you can chase it all with four half-ounce pours of whiskey. Introducing Virginia Distillery Company, the newest stop on Nelson County’s booze trail.

CEO Gareth Moore took over the company after his father, George, the founder, died a few years ago. The visitor center, which Moore says is mostly the brainchild of his wife, Maggie, is now open to the public for tastings, and once they settle into a groove they plan to open up the production facility for tours.

“It’s designed for members of the public to walk through,” Moore says. “You can learn a little about the history of whiskey in general, plus whiskey-making here in Virginia. You can see our process, then taste it, feel it, touch it for yourself.”

For the time being there’s only one spirit on the tasting menu at the visitor center: the port-finished Virginia Highland malt whiskey. After being distilled in Scotland, the whiskey makes its way to Virginia, where it goes through the maturing process and is aged in a port wine cask. Now available in a newly designed bottle, it’s on liquor store shelves in Virginia plus four other states and Washington, D.C.

Moore says a sampler at the visitor center will include a half-ounce pour of the malt whiskey neat, plus three “cocktails,” a term he uses loosely. The flight includes whiskey infused with local honey, a cider-based cocktail and a Moscow Mule-inspired drink.

Soon, though, Moore and the team hope to have some clear spirits available for sampling. Because it’s the cask wood that gives whiskey its brown coloring, whiskey in its early stages is clear. Visitors will be able to taste the young, clear liquid fresh from the stills to learn more about the production process.

“It won’t be available for distribution,” Moore says of the clear liquid. “It’s more of an educational product, so we can say, ‘This is what it tastes like today. What’s it going to taste like in the future?’”

The Virginia Distillery Company is located at 299 Eades Ln., Lovingston.

Lights out

You may remember an announcement we made about Blue Light Grill a few months ago. In April, the Downtown Mall favorite that has been serving up seafood and cocktails since Coran Capshaw opened it 14 years ago quietly switched hands. Trinity Irish Pub and Coupe’s owner Ryan Rooney took over, and we were told that the restaurant would remain open through spring and summer but the colder months may bring a temporary closing for some renovations.

Fast forward to fall. Managing partner Rich Ridge says Blue Light Grill will close permanently before the end of the year, and will reopen with “a new name, new menu and new design.” So whether you’re a long-time regular or visiting Blue Light is on your Charlottesville bucket list, get in there for some fried oysters and a drink while you can. Customers can also partake in the closing ceremonies, as Ridge and his team will be “putting together a big going-away brunch on [December 6], our last Sunday of service.”

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