While traversing the roads of Rappahannock County on a recent getaway, I find myself in the middle of Sperryville, a true small town complete with a charming Main Street that I quickly realize warrants more than just a pitstop. It may be old school, but Sperryville satisfies any modern foodie, including me. In a single afternoon, I discover an acclaimed restaurant, trendy café and artisanal coffee roaster. Over lunch and a cardamom latte, a few in-the-know natives recommend I press on to Copper Fox Distillery. I pretend to give the detour from my detailed agenda some careful consideration, but, honestly, they had me at whisky.
En route, I learn that Rick Wasmund founded the original Copper Fox in 2005 (a second location in Williamsburg opened in 2015) as the first distillery in the world to produce an applewood-aged whisky. With high expectations, I ring the bell on the oversized wooden doors and am led into a space that reminds me of my grandfather’s basement in the best way possible. Sinatra sings softly from the speakers, exposed pipes line the ceiling, and antiques like a copper fish and old moonshine still provide visual stimulation that pairs well with the drinks. The cozy corner fireplace makes it even easier to linger, along with another beloved spot—the outdoor cocktail garden set up alongside the peaceful Thorton River.
I find Wasmund himself behind the tasting bar, and he entertains me with an assortment of history, expertise and tricks of his trade, like using custom copper stills and floor malting his barley in the traditional style. He chats about being influenced by his time studying at distilleries in Scotland (where he developed his style) and how all of his grains are grown by a local farmer. And my tastes prove he’s not all talk. I opt for a flight of sippers and am particularly delighted with the Peachwood Single Malt Whisky, with infusions of toasted peachwood, and Port Barrel Single Malt, distilled like an original version but finished in Virginia port-style wine barrels.
Complete with a very warm palate, I head to a second bar that serves signature cocktails (available with classic, premium and cognac rye pours) and pick a few specialties to enjoy by the crackling fire. I sample the Hot Stinger, made with Copper Fox Original Rye, spicy honey, house-made bitters, lemonade and club soda, and the classic Copper Manhattan mixed with the Port Style Barrel Finished Rye and Antica Vermouth.
Hours and Events
Copper Fox Sperryville is open Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday from 1–6 p.m. Though tours are currently suspended due to COVID-19, as of Savor’s August publication date, whisky flights and cocktail service were available in the outside seating area. The distillery retail store is also open and stocked with bottles, cocktail kits, gift certificates and hand sanitizer. Online ordering and curbside pick-up are also available.
Copper Fox Distillery has two locations at 9 River Lane, Sperryville and Capitol Landing Road