Distilleries in Charlottesville and Albemarle County
A handful of great distilleries call the Charlottesville area home. The founders, distillers, and principals are warm, wonderful people. Expect to leave Ragged Branch, Vitae Spirits Distillery, or Spirit Lab Distilling with an expanded palate and a lingering smile. And look for Waterbird Spirits on shelves all over the state. These premium distilled spirits, which come in cans, are made right here in town.
Please familiarize yourself with the safety procedures and updated hours of each distillery before visiting.
The tasting room offers a great view of the mountains. Stop by to try their flagship bourbons and relax with friends. They’re open Friday to Sunday. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon! Though tours are normally an essential part of visiting the distillery, they're on pause until further notice.
Ragged Branch takes no shortcuts with its distilling process and is committed to natural, sustainable practices. In addition to bourbon, Ragged Branch also serves bourbon beef (the cattle is calved on-site). You’ll find that their mash-fed steaks and hamburgers pair perfectly with their Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Founded by Ian Glomski, a former Professor of Microbiology at UVa’s School of Medicine, Vitae Spirits boasts an incredible range of products. Glomski is the driving force behind the diverse selection of award-winning craft liquors offered at their Rose Hill location, just off Preston Avenue.
When you walk in, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a sleek, modern coffee shop, only instead of coffee, there are rums and gins and more behind the bar. There is now a Vitae Spirits location downtown as well! Their 715 Henry Avenue location is open from noon to 7pm Saturdays. Their new downtown tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday. Visit their website to learn more about bottle sales, classes, and other offerings.
Open Monday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Spirit Lab Distilling is the coziest of the operations in town. The owner, Ivar Aass, is a true expert at his craft. If you have the time, be sure to try a tasting! Kids and dogs are welcome during regular tasting hours.
Freshest on the local craft distillery scene, Waterbird Spirits opened for business in September of 2019 after successfully testifying in the House and Senate in the Commonwealth of Virginia to allow for the manufacture and sale of canned cocktails.
Check out their downtown location next time you're in town! It's located on Water Street, just south of the Downtown Mall. Though tastings or tours aren't currently offered, you'll be able to see the shiny new machinery out of which pop these tasty premium canned beverages.
You can't go wrong with a visit to any of these craft distilleries. If you've never been to one before, trust that they'll be welcoming and eager to teach you about whatever you're interested in: the distillation process, pairings, cocktail recipes, barrel aging, name it. A distillery tour and tasting is a great way to test new liquors if you usually prefer a beer or a glass of wine. Who knows! Maybe you'll discover your new favorite drink. Once you've had a chance to visit your distillery of choice, be sure to check out the other top things to do in our part of Virginia.