Saturday, October 20, 2012

Slow Sippin': 515

By:  Corey Then

Last week Capital Cooking attended a preview of Catoctin Creek Distilling Company’s launch of its handcrafted custom whisky blend, “515”, for the J and G Steakhouse in the W Hotel.

If you’re not familiar, Catoctin Creek was founded by Becky (a chemical engineer) and Scott Harris (formerly a software guru) in 2009 as the first legal distillery in Loudoun County (Purcellville, VA) since before Prohibition.  In addition to Becky’s chemical expertise and the proprietors’ obvious passion for whisky, Catoctin Creek has been able to produce rich, mature-tasting whiskeys by using high quality organic grains and fruits, mostly sourced locally and free of pesticides and chemical additives.
Photo by Kyle Schmitz, S and R Media Group
In the short time since its founding, Catoctin has developed a Roundstone Rye (aged around two years in oak) that is giving long-established distilleries a run for their money as well as an un-aged, white Mosby’s Spirit.  When blended together, the Roundstone and Mosby’s coalesce into the exciting 515 blend.
Photo by Kyle Schmitz
First, a word about the Roundstone Rye. Unlike some ryes that hit you over the head, the Roundstone is rather delicate.  The nose hints of honey, slightly floral, with some rye spice, and a hint of wood.  It is somewhat tart with a little citrus and some slight vanilla and oak flavors, and a subtle finish that has elements of sour, wood, and spice.  I had a friend visit recently from Iowa, home of Templeton Rye, which is exploding in popularity around the world (I recently saw bottles in Sweden and Taiwan, where the bartenders indicated they could not get enough).  My visitor admitted to me that despite his pride in an Iowa product, he actually prefers Catoctin’s Roundstone Rye.  The point is, for such a young distillery, Catoctin produces really good rye. 

As for the new 515 blend, Scott Harris began to brainstorm and experiment with the possibility of crafting a private label whiskey after an event at J and G.  The name – 515 – represents J and G Steakhouse’s prominent address at 515 15th Street, a block from the White House. Harris decided to begin by combining the Roundstone Rye and the Mosby’s Spirit.  Each bottle of ‘515’ is distilled, bottled, and numbered by hand.  The 100% rye blend displays rich flavors of “stone fruit, sugar cane, and leather.” The 515 is available only at J and G served in the picturesque main dining room, the cozy Wine Bar, on the patio, and also in POV – the W Hotel’s sky-high lounge with panoramic views of the White House and DC’s monuments.

I tasted the 515 and agreed with the crowd’s consensus – Catoctin Creek Distillery knows what it is doing.  This is a unique product that for whisky lovers more than justifies a special trip to J and G.  

J&G Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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