Besides wine and beer, the Virginia spirits industry is growing rapidly. theCompass Mobile app lists 20 distilleries in the Commonwealth with tasting rooms; one of these being The Great Dismal Distillery - located in Norfolk. For those familiar with the area, you'll recognize the reference to the Great Dismal Swamp. The distillery was established in 2008 by Zachary Combs. His first product was SilverFox Vodka, produced from a family recipe that "fermented grain to power the tractor on their small farm in the Fentress area of Chesapeake. What was left over, his grandmother turned into liquor. " His grandmother had received that recipe from her grandfather, known as the Silver Fox. Although, still a small operation, the distillery has expanded its product line into bourbon and rum. Each of these spirits are sold for $17, hopefully at your local Virginia ABC store.
This month I received a three pack sample containing a bottle of each, which I have tried in various ways. In general, the overall concensus is that these spirits are designed for mixing and not for the snifters. The SilverFox Vodka is triple distilled then cut to 90 proof with a basic petrol aroma profile until a little water or ice is added. This dampens the alcohol and burn, revealing a sweet and smooth vodka with a subtle burn. I'd suggest using this in any of your standard vodka recipes.
The SilverFox White Rum is distilled from pure sugar cane juice, not molasses, and then infused with vanilla. The profile is honey-vanilla, slightly on the sweeter side with very little burn. I first tried mixing in a Josie Russell, which creates a much different cocktail than when using straight rum - perhaps a little too much vanilla that overwhelms the apple. Instead, my two favorite cocktails was a Vanilla Chocolate Drop (equal parts rum and Godiva dark chocolate liqueur and a splash of cream). A great dessert. Another dessert type drink was a Root Beer Float, add enough rum to taste. The one disappointing aspect to the SilverFox White Rum is that I would have loved to taste before the infusion of vanilla; un-aged rum distilled from sugar cane is quite tasty.
The SilverFox Bourbon, aged two years in oak, is the one spirit I preferred in a snifter, with a small dose of water. Neat, it starts with a sweet corn petrol aroma; candied corn - honey flavor; with no burn at the tail. The water pushes the petrol to the finish; leaving a sweeter vanilla-honey flavor. interestingly the burn increases slightly at the finish. I also mixed with the suggested ginger ale and yes, it works, but I preferred this medium bodied bourbon by itself. The SilverFox Bourbon won't be replacing my Buffalo Trace or Catoctin Creek, but is perfect for an everyday bourbon to have on hand.