James Gordon, the owner of Springfield Distillery, comes by his interest in whiskey naturally.
“I grew up with memories of my father moonshining,” says Gordon, who is opening his Halifax County distillery in August. “My father is one of the first two private individuals in South Africa to get his license for distilling liquor. I get to tap into 25 years of distillery experience.”
In 2012, Gordon and his wife, Kelly, bought Springfield Farm in Halifax, which includes a home built around 1842. They moved to Southern Virginia from Fairfax County.
“There are rumors that there is an old still on this property,” Gordon says. “This area became known for making corn whiskey prior to Prohibition, and it continues to be a good place to distill whiskey.”
The couple wanted to develop a business that would be a good fit for the local economy and also be “a tourist opportunity that would highlight everything we like about Halifax,” Gordon says.
Springfield Distillery is expected to create five jobs and get all of its corn and barley from Virginia farmers. “Our neighbor across the road is growing our corn,” Gordon says. “I can throw a coin from the distillery and hit the corn we are using.”
In opening the distillery, Gordon’s company invested $160,000 in site improvements and equipment while also creating a tasting room and remote-licensed ABC store. Springfield Distillery will purchase almost 150,000 pounds of Virginia corn and barley during the next three years.
“It takes a considerable amount of investment to get into the distilling business,” Gordon says. “There is a lot of regulation and compliance before you can move ahead to producing product.”
Visitors to Springfield Distillery will be able to view the whiskey-making process and then sample the resulting product in a tasting room fashioned from a cabin. The cabin, built in the 1800s, previously was located on a tobacco farm. The DIY Network television show “Barnwood Builders” took the cabin apart and reassembled it at its new location.
Gordon plans to rent out two other cabins at the farm to vacationers. “We will ultimately have four cabins on the property,” he says. “We are near the popular wedding venue Berry Hill Resort. We are looking to collaborate with them to host functions at the distillery.”
Gordon hopes to distribute his whiskey not only in the U.S. but also overseas. “We have some international distributors as far away as New Zealand that are interested in looking at the product,” he says.