KO Distilling opened over a year ago, and now there’s exciting news from the Manassas, Virginia distillery, particularly for Virginia & DC area whiskey fans. Their first aged whiskey release is ready to hit shelves, Bare Knuckle Wheat Whiskey.

Bare Knuckle Wheat Whiskey offers a mash bill of 60% wheat, 30% rye and 10% malted barley, and has been aged for a year in full-size 53-gallon barrels. Bottled at 45% ABV, the release has a suggested price of $35.99.

It’ll be shipped to Virginia ABC stores by November 14th, but if you head to the distillery you should be able to nab some quicker than that, as soon as November 7th. The release comes from a batch of eight barrels, which produced a total of 240 cases.

So how does it taste? Expect to find a nose with wheat and cereal grain, with a surprising dose of rich sweetness found on the finish, with brown sugar and vanilla. Overall, it shows more maturity than you’d expect at a year of age, and offers a rewarding, smooth sip. It’s also a sign of good things to come for KO Distilling.

“We stayed afloat,” with gin and white whiskey, says co-founder John O’Mara. He’s the “O” of KO, along with co-founder Bill Karlson. “We’re really looking forward to Bare Knuckle hitting the shelves now.”

Already with a 550-gallon Vendome hybrid copper pot still, a massive new Vendome column is also on the way. The new rig will be 27-feet tall, with a 12-inch diameter, and is projected to be delivered by March 2017.

The current still offers a production of approximately 25 barrels of whiskey per month, in addition to the gin they produce. The new column will churn out 75-80 barrels of whiskey per month on its own.

That quadruples their production capacity and should enable them to begin building up stock, and to eventually release older expressions. “What we’re doing is starting to stockpile now,” says O’Mara.

As they do, they’ll also begin experimenting with assorted barrel finishes. KO also has plans to make a broad range of whiskeys, including a single malt and a 100% wheat whiskey, along with already planned rye whiskey and wheated bourbon releases. They’ll plan to release those all individually, while also trying their hand at in-house blending. “Then we can do our own blends and create some very interesting products,” says O’Mara.

KO currently has 375 barrels aging in their warehouse, with room for about a 1,000. Of their current stock, 160 barrels were purchased from MGP, and will be used for separate releases. “All of the Bare Knuckle labels will be our own stuff,” says O’Mara.

What’s Next for KO Distilling?

100% Rye Whiskey – “I feel strongly that this should be coming out sooner than later,” says O’Mara. “But I don’t want to flood the market with too many releases right on top of each other.” Expect a spring 2017 release.

Wheated Bourbon – A wheated bourbon, made with a mash bill of 70% corn, 20% wheat and 10% malted barley is tabbed for release at two years of age, putting it on track for fall 2017.

MGP Bourbon – They purchased a supply of bourbon from MGP, with a mash bill of 70% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley. As mentioned, this will be released under a separate label/series, and will also likely be aged for a minimum of two years. Also of note is that they bought new make from MGP, rather than pre-aged stock.

Visit KODistilling.com for more information, as well as their hours of operation for tours and tastings.