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Copper Fox Distillery
Terry Sullivan

Copper Fox DistillerySummary: In the small town of Sperryville, Virginia tucked behind some old buildings housing artisans, is a long building with the address 9 River Lane prominently displayed. This is the home of Copper Fox Distillery, a distillery that is crafting some unusual whiskies and other spirits. One of the focuses of Copper Fox is the experience for visitors.

Traveling west towards Shenandoah National Park on Virginia 211, we exited the highway at Sperryville, in search of Copper Fox Distillery. The distillery building is just minutes off 211 and within a few miles of the National Park entrance. If you missed the distillery’s sign on the end of a long building, just drive to what looks like the main parking area for these artisan buildings and look for the address 9 River Lane. Amble toward the two flags and up the steps by the open flag to the entrance. This distillery is very visitor friendly. We were greeted before we reached the front door. Our experience began with a video in a small area with comfortable seating. Some of the upholstered chairs were made from whisky barrels.


Copper Fox DistilleryThe video, I, Whisky: the Human Spirit introduces visitors to some interesting facts about whisky. We learned about the Wasmund family and the current efforts by Rick Wasmund. On a romantic note, Rick said he met his wife during a whisky connection. She came over and he asked her if he could buy her a drink. She said, “Sure, what are you drinking?” Rick replied, “I’m drinking this whisky that I made.” She responded, “You make your own whisky?” They were later married.

The video touches on a few themes that are later explored during a tour of the facility. One of those themes is that there is more to whisky than just what is in the glass. There is creativity in the distilling process that often goes unnoticed. Spirit enthusiasts will often think of Scotland and Ireland when it comes to whisky. But whisky is also a very American spirit. During the video, viewers learn what separates Copper Fox Distillery from all others in the country. Unlike other distilleries, Copper Fox Distillery malts their own barley, rye and oats. The distillers creativity extends to the malting process.


Rick Wasmund’s niece, Darcee took us on a tour of the production areas. She usually works in the barrel room of this family run business. Our first stop was a display showing the different products in the distillery’s portfolio. At this stop, Darcee spoke about her grandfather who went to Scotland and learned to distill. When her grandfather started making whisky, he made a single malt Scotch-style whisey without the peat.

Our next stops were the rooms used to malt the grains. A large room had a steep tank. Another room was the malt kiln, a two-story room. On the ground floor, a wood stove was used to heat the room and the grains above. A grill was used to burn applewood and other woods to smoke the grains above.

Copper Fox Distillery     Copper Fox Distillery

Copper Fox DistilleryAll grains used in the production of spirits are milled onsite. Our third room included the mash tank, fermenter, a stainless steel mash still and a copper still. Our last room was the barrel room, the room where Darcee spends most of her time. Depending on the spirit, the spirit may spend time in two or three barrels. The first barrel has a wide opening on the head. Applewood chips are placed in the barrel along with the spirit. After spending some time in the first barrel, the spirit is racked to a finishing barrel. The spirit will spend an average of 24 months in those two barrels. One of the distillery’s products ages for an additional year in a used bourbon barrel.


We met Sean McCaskey, production manager, who led us through a tasting. We asked Sean what people should know about Copper Fox Distillery. He responded that they are the only distillery malting their grains in the country. They take pride in malting the grains and visitors have a chance to observe the malting process. Sean spoke about the creativity at the distillery. They use applewood, cherrywood and peachwood in the malting and aging processes. Production is around 12,000 cases. Rye whisky is their biggest seller.

Copper Fox DistilleryOur first spirit tasted was the Single Malt Whisky. The whisky was crafted using 100% hand malted Virginia barley. The barley was smoked with hand-cut apple and cherry wood. It was aged in used bourbon barrels for 14 months. Apple and oak chips were added to the barrel. This 96 proof (48% alcohol) whisky had a dark gold color. The whisky was sweet with a grain aroma and taste. It had a very silky mouthfeel and some heat on the finish. A splash of water tamed the heat.

The Peachwood Single Malt Whisky was a dark amber color. The 96 proof (48% alcohol) whisky had some floral notes and peach on the aroma. The mouthfeel was extremely smooth and there was some heat on the finish. There was a long aftertaste with some peach notes.

The Single Malt Whisky Apple Brandy Barrel Finish had additional aging in an apple brandy barrel. It had a dark gold color. The 96 proof (48% alcohol) whisky had a sweet aroma with some apple. The smooth mouthfeel had some heat on the finish.


Sean offered to mix a couple cocktails for us to enjoy outside along the Thornton River. The first cocktail, Smokey Wasmunds, was fascinating to watch Sean create. An applewood chip was placed on a piece of granite. Sean then fired the chip until it was glowing red. He placed a cocktail glass over the chip to capture the smoke. He quickly added ice and poured in the Single Malt Whisky. The resulting cocktail had a smoky aroma. The taste offered grain, sweetness, wood, smoke and apple.

Copper Fox Distillery     Copper Fox Distillery     Copper Fox Distillery

Copper Fox DistillerySean also mixed a unique “house” whiskey sour. The cocktail included a housemade vinegar shrub, rye whisky, ice, house-made orange juice, simple syrup and a drop of rose hip hibiscus. Sean shook this cocktail mix in a cocktail shaker. The cocktail was served with one-half slice of orange. The result was a cocktail similar to a traditional whisky sour. It was refreshing with a hint of vinegar. As might be expected the aftertaste reminded one of “sweet and sour.”

We took our cocktails outside to chairs along the river. The setting was very quiet, serene and relaxing. Copper Fox Distillery offers a great visitor experience. Spirit enthusiasts should experience the creativity in the distilling process and the mashing process.

Copper Fox Distillery
9 River Lane
Sperryville, Virginia 22740

GPS: N38º 39.5014’ W78º 13.0162’


Article written August 2017.



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Copyright: Terry and Kathy Sullivan 2016