Thursday, July 9, 2015
One of my favorite wine country destinations in Virginia is Nelson County, located just southwest of Charlottesville and encompassing the Blue Ridge Parkway. Initially it was the county's mountains and wine that attracted me to the area, then a few breweries like Blue Mountain Brewery and Devils Backbone opened, then Bold Rock Cidery. Now there's another excuse - Silverback Distillery, with a new spirits brand available throughout the Virginia ABC system.
The distillery is owned and operated by Christine and Denver Riggleman and they produce three spirits: Beringei Vodka, Strange Monkey Gin, and Blackback White Grain Spirit. In order to provide tastings at the distillery, state regulations require that consumers be limited to 4 ounces of spirits over a 24 hour period. Rather crazy considering a person could then travel to nearby Blue Mountain or Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery and drink unlimited quantities of beer or wine. In order to make this restriction bearable to visitors, Silverback created a few cocktail flights which serve a dual purpose. Not only do they provide customers enjoyable libations during their visit, but they also provide future recipes after purchasing a bottle or two.
Samples also are provided neat which gave me a clear representation of their spirits. The Beringei Vodka ($30 750 ml, 80 proof) is made from predominately winter wheat and is very clean, slightly sweet, with absolutely zero burn. The Blackback White Grain Spirit ($17 750 ml, 90 proof) has a high percentage of corn in the mash bill augmented by winter wheat. Thus, on the one hand the corn provides sweetness and spice, on the other, the winter wheat mellows the profile. This moonshine styled spirit is sweet with a minor burn. Be prepared for an aged version of the white grain that is currently residing in American Oak barrels. The biggest surprise was the Strange Monkey Gin ($30 750 ml, 80 proof). Not particular fond of gin, this version was rather tasty as the distillery held back on the juniper. This was worth the price of admission alone. As for the cocktails, the Moscow Mule (vodka) and London Mule (gin) were my favorites with the spirit mixed with ginger beer and lime juice. And both grain cocktails were nice, the Fruity Baboon (blood orange soda and lime juice) and Mango Monkarita (house mango mix). Cheers and safe travels while using theCompass Winery, Brewery, Distillery Locator Mobile App.