By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Davis is now home to New Heritage Distillery, owned and operated by Victor “Vic Bob” Hutchinson, who returned to the area to pursue this dream. “ I was always interested in making brandy and distilling and I really missed living in Davis,” explained Hutchinson when he decided to embark on this endeavor.
Even though the purchase of the building was official on March 1, COVID-19 put an abrupt hold on the project. This gave Hutchinson four months to complete the renovations the facility needed to prepare for his grand opening.
On the evening of September 4, the distillery opened their tasting room and retail space for the first time with only two products. “I’m shut down now for the next four weeks or so because I made enough bottles that I thought were going to last me three months, I made 215 bottles for sale, and I sold every single one in the first 13 days of being opened,” he proclaimed.
Hutchinson is friends with Athey and Maggie Lutz, owners of Still Hollow Distillery, where they make more of a whiskey-based product, so Hutchinson decided to investigate the distilling process for brandy. Only having a smaller still currently with a larger unit on the way, Hutchinson is distilling using what he claims as, “The greatest still on the planet,” which is an I-Still owned by the Lutz’.
New Heritage is now going to offer four products, a clear apple brandy, oak treated apple brandy, maple syrup apple brandy, and moonshine made with maple syrup. “All our cider is provided by my good friend at Winchester Cider Works in Winchester, Va.,” he stated. “For my oak treatment, I’m not traditionally aging my products right now,” he explained, but uses American White Oak rods cut into a spiral to allow for more surface area and then charred like the interior of a barrel. He then takes his brandy and places it into an ultrasound and submerges the spirals. “What that does is breaks apart the structure of the cellulose in the wood and it dries out all of those sugars, flavors, and colors in about a three-week time frame opposed to a couple of years,” he explained. When asked if the taste was similar, he responded, “It is, it’s only missing time.” Eventually, Hutchinson plans to barrel some of his products to see what time adds to his brandy.
According to the W.Va. Distillery Directory, there are only 17 distilleries throughout the state in addition to New Heritage. Of those, only three distilleries statewide distill brandy, and none, to Hutchinson’s knowledge, offer a moonshine made from maple syrup.
Hutchinson is certain that this new adventure wouldn’t be possible without the help of not only the Lutz’ and his friends at Cider Works but other business owners and residents of the Davis area. His goal is to reopen to the public on October 30 as it will take him that long to prepare all of his supplies. “I’m hoping to have two runs of the brandy, which will be about 430 bottles,” he stated with an additional 150 bottles of the moonshine. He hopes that once his still is erected and manufacturing can take place within his facility, he will be able to remain open and will not run out of inventory.