It was here that I discovered my love of whiskey and moonshine. I kid you not. And there’s probably not a better place to explore the tastes of fine grain alcohol such as whiskey, moonshine, bourbon, rum and white lightning than Belmont Farm Distillery.
Belmont Farm Distillery, located in Culpeper, VA, is a historic and family-owned distillery renowned for its craft spirits. They specialize in producing small-batch, handcrafted whiskeys using traditional techniques and local ingredients, creating a unique flavor that captures the essence of the Virginia countryside.
You may even run into Tim Smith, the star of Moonshiners! The distillery’s moonshine was some of the best moonshine I’ve ever sampled. This is where I decided that moonshine is a favorite of mine. Of course, I left with gifts for my adult children and friends!
And the tour…just do it. The tasting was great, but this was, for me, the highlight. Belmont Farm Distillery predates predate Prohibition, which you’ll discover as you tour the small facility, with its antique and still-in-use copper pots.
We were lucky — owner Chuck Miller, who uh, looks like you think a moonshine-maker ought to, led the tour. And we were there when Moonshiners star Tim Smith was present, overseeing the creation of another batch of moonshine. Tim also looks remarkably like you might think a moonshine-maker ought to look. It was really fun to hear from them both about the craft of distilling moonshine as we toured the behind-the-scenes aspect of creating these spirits.
A Little Moonshine History
Moonshine production in Virginia has a four-century history, dating back to the early days of the American colonies. Traditionally, “moonshine” is illegally distilled alcohol, typically made at night (“by the light of the moon”). In Virginia, illegal distillers ampted up their production of moonshine particularly during Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. But moonshining also has roots in the state’s rural distilling traditions.
Prior to Prohibition, many legal distilleries produced whiskey and other spirits in Virginia. However, Prohibition closed these distilleries, leaving a void in the market. Into this gap stepped enterprising individuals eager to satisfy the demand for alcohol by producing moonshine in hidden, remote locations.
The mountainous terrain of Virginia provided perfect hiding spots for moonshiners. Many moonshiners in Virginia established secret stills deep in the forests, away from prying eyes.
When Prohibition ended in 1933, Virginia, like other states, began to regulate and license legal alcohol production. However, the craft of moonshining didn’t disappear entirely. Some moonshiners continued their operations illegally, evading authorities. Moonshine remained a part of Virginia’s cultural fabric.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in moonshine, both legally and culturally. Legal moonshine production, often referred to as “craft moonshine,” makes use of traditional distilling methods and offers a variety of flavored spirits. Distilleries have taken advantage of Virginia’s historical connection to moonshine to produce legitimate products reminiscent of the illicit past.
Today, you can find legal moonshine distilleries across Virginia like Belmont Farm Distillery, offering tours and tastings, allowing you to experience the legacy of this once-underground industry. While the days of illegal moonshining in Virginia are largely in the past, the legacy lives on, especially at Belmont Farm, bringing a rich and colorful chapter of the state’s history to life.
Belmont Farm Distillery’s Recipes
Although, to be honest, some of the spirits come pre-flavored and are darn good drunk neat: peach, apple pie, butterscotch, cherry and so forth, Belmont Farm offers a variety of recipes for mixed drinks using its moonshine and other spirits. These are tantalizingly named Border Strike, Blood Light, and such. I’ve tried and enjoyed the two recipes below:
3 oz Virginia Lightning
6 oz Margarita mix
Shake with ice. Garnish with lime. Serve with either a salt or sugar rim.Recipe courtesy of Belmont Farm Distillery
The Flash Drive
3 oz Virginia Lightning
6 oz orange juice
Build over ice in a tall glass.Recipe courtesy of Belmont Farm Distillery
Know Before You Go
There’s a lot to see and do in and around Culpeper. Check out this article to discover more! Get all the info you need to know before you go at the Culpeper Visitor Center; parking lots are nearby there as well, at 111 Commerce St, Culpeper, VA.
Getting there: 13490 Cedar Run Rd, Culpeper, VA
Hours: Please check the website below for operating hours and events.
Website: Belmont Farm Distillery