There's alot you can do with one hour of spare time. Watch an episode of Game of Thrones, go on a 15+ mile bike ride, or you could take a tour of Tarnished Truth distillery @ The Historic Cavalier Hotel. Tarnished Truth distillery is the nations only in hotel distillery. I have toured dozens of distilleries in my life including most of the juggernaut ones like Wild Turkey, Buffalo Trace, Makers, etc but this was my first time getting to check out what is now being called craft whiskey. These smaller in house distilleries who are making whiskey in new innovative ways but still sticking to the traditions that have made us all whiskey drinkers today.
Visiting The Cavalier Hotel is a luxurious and historic experience in itself but down one flight of stairs and you enter the real adult playground. With its prohibition styling that blends with the legendary speakeasy, The Hunt Room, next door (more on that later) it welcomes you inside the former laundry room, now turned gift shop and distillery while you wait for your tour to begin.
Our extremely knowledgeable guide Justin is one of two distillers at Tarnished Truth. The master distiller is Larry Ebersold, also known as the godfather of rye and from a place we should all be very familiar with today, MGP. They are distilling on a 500 gallon system today and it runs mostly around the clock producing their high rye bourbon, gin and vodka. All spirits are distilled, bottled and hand labeled on site.
After the tour completes you are taken into what I might consider one of the nicest tasting rooms I've gotten to experience. Far too often are you just standing around a counter trying to listen behind the person in front of you and taste the distilleries product. If you've ever gone wine tasting, you know exactly what I am talking about. You enter this fine wood and barrel laced room with a giant center table fit for Kings and Queens where you are seated to taste. Like most tastings it starts with the "white lightning" proofed down to 90 proof then onward to the High Rye, Old Cavalier single barrel and the bourbon cream.
The tour ends exiting through the Hunt Room. The Hunt Room is only open from 5 pm daily and offers prohibition style cocktails and if you are lucky you might find some special bottles behind the bar, including a limited release of the 9 yr Old Cavalier aged in port cask.
Head to the gift shop where you are handed your complimentary Glencairn glass that you were probably already eyeing before the tour and ask to taste the Gin and Vodka that is distilled on-premise.
Interested in owning your own barrel of Tarnished Truth? They offer 2 programs. The more common, pick your barrel and let it age as long as you desire for a cool $10k. The 2nd program is much more unique to the industry. Andrew and Josh (Owners of Tarnished Truth) are giving you the full distiller experience by not only letting you age a barrel but letting you create that whiskey from scratch! You create your own mashbill and participate in the actual distillation process from start to finish, including returning to the distillery and staying at The Cavalier to check on your barrel. This incredible experience will set you back around $26k! But can you really put a price on creating your own whiskey? I think not.
Whether you are staying at The Cavalier, staying at Virginia Beach, or just in town for a day trip, I highly recommend booking a hour of your time to check out this awesome craft whiskey distillery. If it fits your schedule stick around for dinner and drinks at The Hunt Room and take in the full Tarnished Truth experience.
I will be visiting the only hotel in the US with its own distillery within, the lovely Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, VA. Stay tuned for my full review!