Congratulations to Catoctin Creek Distillery, a finalist for Main Street Business of the Year! Post written by Owner Scott Harris. The livestream of the 26th Annual Loudoun Small Business Awards will premier Friday, November 13, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. on our Facebook Page. View all 2020 SBA Finalists here.
Tell us about your business, how it got started, and how it has evolved into what it is today.
Becky and I started this business from a love of three things – Virginia, rye whisky, and history. We wanted to produce a type of whisky that was common here during the 1700’s – 1800’s. Most people even today don’t know that Virginia is the birthplace of American whisky! Even Bourbon, which comes from Kentucky was made in Virginia in the early days. (Kentucky did not become a state until 1792, before that, it was called Virginia!) We love producing a craft rye whisky in the old traditional methods, and love that people enjoy drinking it in new and interesting ways today!
What would it mean for you and your business to win a Small Business Award?
We are so honored to even be considered for this award. There are so many amazing businesses in Loudoun County – both big and small – and just to be in the list is the biggest win of all. It’s one reason Becky and I have made this county our home. The sense of community and vibrancy of the business culture in Loudoun – even during these difficult times – is what we love about living here.
What is the smallest thing that has made the biggest impact on your business?
Learning about the importance of branding. When we first started, we were two engineers, and we didn’t appreciate that. We thought, whatever we do, the best liquid in the bottle, and the label doesn’t matter. But people shop with their eyes. Labels DO matter, and we’ve learned that now. I wish we’d known that from the start.
Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
I have to say that it was my business partner and wife, Becky Harris. Starting a business as husband and wife is risky and hard. We risked not just our fortune, but also our marriage! What if it didn’t work out? What if the stress was too much? All of these things came into play. In the early days, I was worried Becky was just going along with it “to be nice.” But when the difficult times came, and I saw how she sacrificed everything to help the business survive… the years of sweat and tears that she put into it… I am just humbled and grateful. We could never have done it without her. She’s amazing.
What is your favorite thing about running your business in Loudoun County?
The diversity here is the best. We have customers from all age groups (except under 21!), all races, social classes, sexual identities, etc. Drinking whisky is a truly social activity that brings people together in a spirit of warmth and camaraderie. Loudoun has been such a great place to run our business, and we’re grateful for the friends we’ve made here!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an astronaut. I even went to Space Camp! Seriously. I still do want to be an astronaut. I’m still holding out for that opportunity!
What is a book that changed your life, and WHY?
“The Millionaire Next Door” – Thomas J Stanley & William D Danko – taught me the value of saving money, living frugally, so that we could have the capital to start our business when we wanted to. Having no debt and cash in the bank is the truest form of freedom!
When you’re not at your desk, where can we find you on the weekends/what is another passion you have?
I am an avid birder, gardener, hiker, and swimmer. I love staying active. I swim several miles a week at Ida Lee, and will almost always be found in my yard or my woods futzing about with plants and flowers. Recently, I just reupholstered two pieces of furniture in our home — one from the 1830’s — so you can see that I must keep myself busy!
How do you see your business evolving in the next 5 years?
We are growing to become a nationally recognized brand. We are in 26 states today, and I hope to be in all 50 by the end of five years. Catoctin Creek – The VIRGINIA Rye Whisky!
Congratulations again to Catoctin Creek Distillery! Check out their website here.