Scott and Becky Harris take pleasure in the craft of distilling spirits in their new Virginia headquarters
When it comes to fine spirits, time is a key ingredient. No one knows this better than Catoctin Creek distillery’s owners, 43-year-old Scott and 46-year-old Becky Harris, who were married for two decades before becoming business partners in 2009. They had lived in Purcellville for 16 years, so it was only natural that they would open their distillery there. “It was a mid-life crisis,” says Scott. “We were looking for second careers. Plus, owning a distillery sounded like a lot of fun.”
The duo loves collaborating, working with nearby vintners and orchardists to source wine grapes, pears, peaches, and apples for their limited-edition brandies. But the core of their business focuses on producing their three kosher, certified-organic signature sippers: Roundstone rye whiskey; Watershed gin; and Mosby’s Spirit, an unaged white whiskey.
She handles distillation—which includes planning the production schedule and manufacturing—and he oversees business operations, such as sales and marketing. It was a natural division of labor. Becky’s previous career was as a chemical engineer, while Scott spent 20 years managing government contracts for classified security systems.
To create a harmonious workplace, Becky reframed their relationship during work hours. “Treat your spouse like you would a coworker,” she says. “You have to be professional rather than personal.”
This summer, the twosome moved their operations into a 6,000-squarefoot red brick building in historic downtown Purcellville, Virginia, which originally housed a Buick dealership. “It was built in the second year of Prohibition,” notes Scott, “so it’s ironic that it’s a distillery today.”
The roof sports a 21st-century improvement: Loudoun County’s largest solar array. On a sunny day, it generates 85 percent of their power. “We have always tried to take a sustainable approach to our business,” says Becky.
Their approach is working: Their sales also doubled each year for the first three years, before they maxed out their production. Currently, their bottles are in several hundred stores and restaurants in Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as high-profile DC establishments such as Blue Duck Tavern and J&G Steakhouse.
The new digs will allow the couple to double production as they seek to expand domestic distribution and explore overseas opportunities. “I feel like I’m about to start drinking from a fire hose,” jokes Becky, “but it’s an exciting feeling.” 120 W. Main St., Purcellville, VA, 540-757-8404