A spirited visit to the Murlarkey Distillery
Murlarkey Distilled Spirits opened in Bristow, Virginia in January of 2016. Within a year and a half, they have managed to make quite a name for themselves and have won a number of awards. So a few weeks back, I jumped at the opportunity to head out to their distillery for a tour and tasting. There is something fun about taking a trip to a distillery in general, but the experience at Murlarkey is even more delightful.
Cousins Thomas Murray and Mike Larkin wanted to pay homage to their Irish heritage and combined both their family names (Mur + Lar) with their grandparents’ (Kelly), for the “Murlarkey” name. It also is a play on the Irish word malarkey meaning festive/silly – and this came through in their serious and fun but not stuffy approach. Also what better way to showcase their Irish heritage than through the greatest of Irish inventions – whiskey! But non whiskey drinkers have much to enjoy too – gin, vodka, and a slew of cocktails are available in the tasting room.
I’ve done a number of distillery and brewery tours before, but I can honestly say this was one of the most interactive and interesting tours I have experienced. Head Distiller Jesse Puckett led us through the distilling process, talked about the importance of quality ingredients, adapting the fermentation and distillation process based on local water. The passion and the company’s focus on the quality of the ingredients and the process is evident, really holding true to their “farm to flask” values. It’s also pretty apparent that everyone involved just enjoys doing what they do, and the atmosphere is relaxed and familial.
This is not one of those tastings where they pour you a sip, you drink it, and then move to the next. It’s a beautifully orchestrated and relaxed experience, where you sip each spirit plain, then on the rocks, and then with some additions that make it more a cocktail. What I loved about this was that it really showcased the character of the spirit, but also made it super approachable for how you might want to use it in a drink. George “Papi” Zwetkow, is the creative genius behind product development, and his gourmet chef experience along with a ton of knowledge and a bit of fun make for an educational, relaxed, tasting experience with a lot of surprises along the way. He’s also got some amazing stories to tell, so make sure to chat him up if you see him around!
While their fine whiskey Clemoncy is popular, I especially enjoyed the ImaGINAtion – a delicately flavored gin (perfect for summer drinking), and their Cincerity cinnamon whiskey. Vodka lovers will like their Divine Clarity vodka, a gluten free vodka that is distilled 16 times for a super smooth spirit (most vodkas are distilled about 5-6 times).
Murlarkey spirits are available in ABC stores in Virginia and a number of bars, and also in bars around DC. I HIGHLY recommend stopping by their distillery to do a tasting as well. It’s conveniently located near Jiffy Lube Live, so perfect for some pre-concert drinks if you are heading out there, but it’s really only about 45 minutes away from DC and makes for a great stop on a distillery/winery/brewery tour in Prince William County. (Tours cost $5/person and are given by appointment only Monday – Wednesday or Friday and Saturday at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and by appointment.)
I really had a fantastic experience getting to know the folks at MurLarKey, learned a lot about savoring each of their spirits, and had a great time overall with the happy and proud bunch. I’m sure you will experience the same – make a visit there, I know I’ll be back to taste their latest creations!
Get more info and timings on their website: MurLarkey Distilled Spirits
A growing list of bars in DC where you can find Murlarkey, but also FIND THEM here.
BIER BARON TAVERN
CHINATOWN GARDEN RESTAURANT
EMBASSY ROW HOTEL
GEORGETOWN PIANO BAR
JACK ROSE DINING SALOON
NANNY O'BRIENS IRISH PUB
NEW HEIGHTS REST
UGLY MUG DINING SALOON