Artisan Spirit: Fall 2021

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The collaboration also provides them significant clout while crossing over into one market from another. “Cross-pollination brings people in front of each other’s brands,” Scott Harris explained. “It’s important, because it’s a great way to get people to stop and say, ‘I haven’t seen that brand before’.” On a deeper level, the collaboration affords Catoctin Creek the opportunity to potentially clue more people into the ongoing challenges facing the distilling industry. “Groups like the ACSA are working to chip away at the stigma surrounding spirits, but even so, the craft spirits world can sometimes be an echo chamber,” Scott Harris said. “A collaboration like this can be a great way to get our message of reform beyond us and out to parts of the public that may not know about what’s going on.”

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THE BEAUTY OF THE BARREL Nobody can precisely remember the specifics of the collaboration’s origins. Clark vaguely recalls it happened around 2017 or 2018. And even though Scott Harris recalls being impressed with Clark’s worldly sauces — “They were nicely branded,” he said — he’s not sure who reached out to whom. The process of making the sauce is a different story. A former chef, Clark guides the barrel-aging process from barrel hot fill to bottle hot fill at Hatch Kitchen, a sprawling culinary campus in Richmond that provides space for craft food producers to do their thing. Yet he’s hesitant to take much credit for anything that happens between the first and last step. “When you taste that sauce, it really hits you what a barrel can do,” he said. “I can’t claim the flavor, but the barrel can.” What he and the Harrises can claim, however, is a collaboration that captures the essence of Virginia craft and creativity in limited-edition bottles. It’s also one that Clark hopes will keep going, even as the world’s slow return to normal may make connecting a bit of a challenge. “Things are getting back to being busy again and getting the chance to catch up with each other is not going to be an easy task,” Clark said. “But there have been such great vibes through our past collaborations, I’m looking forward to continuing this partnership with them in the future.” Visit www.clarkandhopkins.com or www.catoctincreekdistilling.com for more info.

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