Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, spirits are high among Virginia distillers and imbibers of local craft spirits alike, as the Virginia Distillers Association (VDA) prepares to launch the fifth annual month-long celebration of September Virginia Spirits Month, where it’s “5 o’clock for 30 days,” as the campaign tagline suggests.

The annual initiative serves as a launching pad for consumer educational programs which promote the local craft spirits industry while also championing this year’s historic 400th anniversary of Virginia as the Birthplace of American Spirits; where the first batch of corn whiskey was distilled in 1620. The commonwealth has come a long way since 1620, with state support for local spirits producers that is unprecedented by national standards.
 
Since the inception of the September Virginia Spirits Month campaign in 2016, annual September sales of Virginia spirits have increased by more than 134%, proving Virginians have a strong thirst for local products. As the cornerstone for this year’s September campaign promotions, the VDA produced a series of 25 lighthearted and informative videos featuring product tastings and how-to instructional cocktail recipes highlighting craft spirits from across the commonwealth. VDA and featured distilleries will share daily videos throughout September on social media platforms to promote the “It’s 5 o’clock for 30 days” campaign.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted distillers and producers across the state, regulatory adjustments have provided some relief. Thanks to support from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC), Virginia residents can now temporarily order their favorite bottles of Virginia spirits online and have them safely shipped or delivered directly to their homes.
 
While many Virginia spirits are discounted all month long at ABC’s retail stores and distillery stores, Virginia ABC will also offer a special one-day-only 20% off  in-store purchases of ten select Virginia spirits as part of their Virginia-themed “Spirited Thursday” promotion on Sept. 10, 2020, called “Virginia Spirits Day.” Customers can find more information on Virginia ABC’s website: www.abc.virginia.gov/products/promotions.
 
“The key to success this year, especially during these challenging times, is a willingness to adapt, support and participate in new forms of market access extended to our industry,” explains Gareth H. Moore, President of the VDA and CEO of Virginia Distillery Company, in Lovingston.

“Unlike prior September Virginia Spirits Month campaigns, where we created programming that encouraged consumers to visit our distillery, this year we’re bringing the campaign directly to Virginia consumers. Promotional tastings will all be virtual, but more importantly, we’re able to utilize an impactful form of new market access, specifically Direct to Consumer shipping and delivery privileges which are a win for distilleries, consumers, and Virginia ABC.” Moore said.

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