A road trip to family-owned Three Crosses Distillery outside Richmond is flavorful and fun
Just a peaceful 20-minute drive outside of Richmond along Route 60, hang a left on Old Buckingham Road, and before you arrive at the Powhatan Courthouse Historic District, you’ll spot a quaint, freshly painted gray brick building that beckons visitors with its sit-and-stay-a-while side porch complete with rocking chairs and barrel tables. And, believe me, you’ll want to sip while you sit at family-owned Three Crosses Distillery where husband-and-wife team John and Michelle Davenport have created a small-town destination with big, award-winning spirit flavors including their signature American Whiskey, which earned them Gold in the USA Spirits Ratings for 2020 and is now available in 120 ABC stores.
When my colleague and I arrive at Three Crosses, we are warmly welcomed by Michelle, who starts off our tour with a confession. Pointing to a humble one-gallon still she purchased for her husband 13 years ago, now on display alongside local jams and peanuts, she notes the pair had no idea owning a still—even a small one—was illegal in Virginia. Fast forward more than a decade and they’ve transformed their fermenting faux pas into a licensed operation making not only whiskey—aged “slow and low” in American white oak barrels—but Route 13 Shine; Black Chevron Vodka; Old Buckingham Gin; Crossed Rifles Rum and Noble Hound Rye Whiskey among other seasonal releases. They do it all in a building that was known to locals for decades as the Powhatan Farm Stand and where real moonshiners once came to purchase grain outside the back door.
Michelle pours us a flight of three spirits to sample. It’s worth noting that their clever labeling system, featuring interchangeable metal coins with the names of each spirit underneath its respective glass and therefore easily visible, is as ingenious as their whiskey is smooth. We try the vodka first. Modeled after Tito’s ultra-filtered profile, it’s a crisp, clean slate just begging for a mixologist’s magic. The spiced rum tantalizes with hints of cinnamon, vanilla, orange peel and nutmeg. And that award-winning whiskey goes down as easy as you’d think. I implore Michelle for a sample of their limited release coffee whiskey, made with beans from Greenberry’s Coffee Roasters, and I’m in love enough to leave with a bottle of that smokey java goodness.
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Speaking of limited releases, look for Three Crosses Route 13 Shine Strawberry Flavored Corn Whiskey coming in May or June of 2021. Their Eve’s Rebellion Apple Spiced Rum has fall written all over its flavor profile and typically hits shelves in October. And, pretty soon, you’ll want to bring your appetite to Three Crosses. They are in the process of building out a small restaurant adjacent to the distillery. It will be called the Table at Three Crosses and feature higher-end pub fare sourcing local ingredients under the direction of chef Michael Stotler and be paired with an expanded farm stand featuring local products for sale. It’s all part of their “community table” concept. “This is a gathering place for neighbors,” Michelle explains. “I can’t tell you how many people have met here and become friends here and now they meet here every Friday afternoon at 3.” We’ll drink to that!
Learn more about Three Crosses Distillery at ThreeCrossesDistilling.com.