Fredericksburg, VA, More than the Civil War

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Two reasons to visit Fredericksburg, VA, besides its historic battlefields: award-winning bourbon from the A. Smith Bowman Distillery plus dinner and an overnight at the historic Kenmore Inn. Fredericksburg, VA, is 60 miles south of Washington, D.C.

A Fredericksburg gem, the A. Smith Bowman Distillery, whose roots date back 80 years, won two awards in the 2014 International Wine and Spirit Competition: a silver outstanding medal for its Bowman Brothers Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey and a silver medal for its John J. Bowman Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

The medals are proof that master distiller Brian Prewitt and the Sazerac Company, which purchased the distillery in 2003, is emphasizing quality, rather than quantity. “My ultimate goal is to become the pre-eminent craft distillery in the county,” says Prewitt.

On the hour-long, free tours, you learn about the process of producing spirits, including creating a mash (the liquid mix of fermenting grains), using cured or charred barrels, aging the mixture, testing the barrel and appreciating the distiller’s art.“ The most important instrument in the distillery is the mouth,” says Prewitt, who tastes the “white dog,” the colorless distillate from the still before it goes into the barrels. Tours end with a tasting.

Complement your good whiskey tour with fine food at the Kenmore Inn, another Fredericksburg highlight.

Executive chef Jacqueline Hartman serves what she calls “American fare with French influences.” Signature dishes include crab cakes, steak and crème brulee. Dine inside or in the garden.

Kenmore InnCandyce H. Stapen Photography

Kenmore Inn

The building dates to 1824. Each of the inn’s nine guest rooms feature antique furniture. The current owners purchased the property in 2001, brightening the inn, adding hardwood floors and restoring the porch. Sitting in the porch rockers, admiring the neighborhood’s stately 19th century homes, it’s easy to imagine the genteel life before the Civil War. Although heavily shelled, the house survived the December 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg. In in the heart of Virginia’s Civil War country Fredericksburg, VA, saw four major battles: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania. These once bloody fields comprise the 8,300- plus acre Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Visiting all four battlefields will put 75-miles on your odometer and take most of or more than a day to do properly. Decide ahead whether you want to visit all or one or two. Then come back to the Kenmore Inn for a good meal and comfortable accommodations.

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