Posted by Carten Cordell / Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
Here is an inside look at Catoctin Creek Distillery’s bottling process. Owners Scott and Becky Harris open up the opportunity for volunteers to participate in the process, so check their website for dates and information about registration.
1) It starts with the boxes. Empty bottles are stored in cases at the front of the assembly line. The empty bottles are handed to…
2) …the person sitting at the “Whiskey Cow.” “It’s like milking a cow, but with a kick,” says Scott. There are four nozzles for the bottles to be placed underneath of. The lines are hooked up to the spirits’ holding tanks.
3) The corking process is simple; it’s done by hand. All you have to do is push the cork in as far as it will go. The bottle is then inspected for any matter or chunks that may be floating around from the cork. If you find a floater, the bottle is emptied.
4) After passing inspection, the bottle is then capped with a plastic tube. A hair dryer-like machine is used to secure the cap by semi-melting it to the top of the bottle. Count to One Mississippi and it will be secure. “Don’t put it directly on the table, or you will cook it like I did the first time,” warns Scott.
5) The most delicate part is the labeling, but ridges on the bottle make it easy to align the label. Volunteers work quickly to affix one to the front and one label to the back. Virginia ABC laws require a front and back label on alcohol bottles.
6) The bottles are all returned to their final station, where Becky gives them a final inspection. If they pass, they are boxed up and ready for distribution.
All photos by Melissa J. Lyden
Catoctin Creek Distillery: 37251C East Richardson Lane, Purcellville; 540-751-8404.