Copper Fox Distillery Prepares for June ‘Taste Test’ of Williamsburg Location

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Rick Wasmund, owner of Copper Fox Distillery, stands with the copper still in the distilling and bottling building April 13, 2016 at Copper Fox Williamsburg. The building was formerly a motel suite. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)
Rick Wasmund, owner of Copper Fox Distillery, stands with the copper still in the distilling and bottling building April 13, 2016 at Copper Fox Williamsburg. The building was formerly a motel suite. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)

Copper Fox Distillery owner Rick Wasmund says he is targeting June 1 as the day Williamsburg residents can get their first tour of the transformations taking place at the former Lord Paget Hotel – and taste some whisky, too.

Since he purchased the multi-building complex at 901 Capital Landing Road last March, Wasmund and his team have been busy erasing every trace of the former roles of the 1950s- and 1970s-era buildings and realizing the vision for what will be called Copper Fox Williamsburg.

“Copper Fox Williamsburg is a new distillery dedicated to the same principles as the first distillery in Sperryville,” Wasmund said, referring to the original and still operational Copper Fox Distillery. “We’ve always been and we continue to be dedicated to using Virginia grains. To date, we’ve done that 100 percent of the time.”

He said he is currently putting the final touches on a distilling and bottling building as well as the tasting room, which occupies a former café on the property. The tasting room will include a bar built to accommodate 30 to 35 people and feature liquid and non-liquid retail.

Once he has secured the necessary licenses, Wasmund said he can begin malting operations. By malting their own barley — Copper Fox is the only North American microdistillery that hand malts 100 percent of its barley — they can bring the unique flavors of apple wood and cherry wood smokes into the process, he said.

A third smoke — peach wood — will debut exclusively at Copper Fox Williamsburg, Wasmund said. The whisky will be a single malt smoked with peach wood and oak.

Copper Fox Distillery will take over the former site of the Lord Paget Hotel on Capitol Landing Road (Nicole Trifone/WYDaily)
Copper Fox Distillery will take over the former site of the Lord Paget Hotel on Capitol Landing Road (Nicole Trifone/WYDaily)

The first building that will open to the public is the distilling and bottling building, which was formally a motel suite.

The walls are now painted a bold blue, the windows are protected with ornate bars and the open space is adorned with both copper and furry depictions of the “Copper Fox” himself.

The highlight is the copper still, which takes fermented ingredients and distills them into whisky. Visitors will be able to observe every step of whisky production at the Williamsburg site.

“It’s going to be something to see,” Wasmund said.

The central building on the property will eventually hold large stills and accommodate grinding, milling, cooking and fermenting, allowing Copper Fox to expand its production capacity.

Ultimately, Copper Fox Williamsburg will offer an immersive experience where visitors can stay in suites on site, participate in the production process and taste whisky.

Wasmund said he considered the opportunity to redevelop the Lord Paget Motel, which was in foreclosure and purchased by the City of Williamsburg in 2011, a “privilege.”

“I felt a strong connection with the place,” said Wasmund, who first toured the property in 2014. “I see this as such a neat opportunity that was crying out for something.”

The city has purchased several motels in recent years with the intention to redevelop or demolish them. In February, the city put in an offer of $2,450,000 to buy the Super 8 Motel on Richmond Road, but the sale has yet to close.

Copper Fox Williamsburg will open as the latest in a burgeoning Spirits Trail in the Historic Triangle.

Virginia Beer Co. hosted a ceremonial keg tapping in lieu of a ribbon cutting late last month just around the corner on Second Street in York County.

York County is also home to AleWerks Brewing Co. and the future home of Brass Cannon Brewery, which is in the process of relocating from Toano.

Silver Hand Meadery, on Monticello Avenue in the City of Williamsburg, opened last fall.

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