More and more, when people talk about Norfolk, local breweries are brought up. The city is full of some really great beer adventures, and you can walk to quite a few breweries in just one area of the city. What you may not realize, is that there is another hidden drinking adventure waiting for you. Dead Reckoning Distillery can be found not far at all from Rip Rap Brewing Company and O’Connor Brewing Company.
U.S. Army Reservist Derek Ungerecht started distilling rum for this venture in June of 2017 and opened the distillery to the public in January. He wanted to build something for himself (he literally made the bar and the still within the distillery), and he liked the idea of the breweries popping up, but wanted something a bit different. Inspired by our many local breweries and a passion for rum, he began looking for a spot. Regulations for a distillery were quite a bit tougher, and taxes were going to be higher for this sort of venture, but he was determined.
So, what kind of adventure has he set up for you? You can buy tasting tickets, cocktail tickets, and even take a free tour during your visit (as well as take home some merchandise and your own bottles of rum). You can sample this white, mixing-style rum on its own, or you can have them add some of the house-made mixers into your tastings. One of my personal favorites is the hand-mixed daiquiri. Not the beach-side, frozen drink you envision for spring break weekends, but the traditional style Cuban drink. Shaken up as you order with fresh squeezed lime juice, it is a smooth delight.
If you’re a rum connoisseur, Dead Reckoning’s style is somewhere between a Cuban and Puerto Rican-style rum. It is made in a traditional copper pot still which leaves a bit of flavor at the end. The rum made here comes from US molasses. There are currently choices of plain, coconut, orange, or strawberry rum. While the flavored rums are currently made with all natural flavors, Ungerecht is working with local farms to plan for Hampton Roads sourced flavors (think Pungo strawberries). Planned for the future are a spiced rum and a dark rum.
An interesting aspect about this venture is seeing how closely Ungerecht works with the other local distilleries and breweries. When you tour the still room, you will see rum being aged in Ironclad Distillery barrels (from their Bourbon/Whiskey distillery in Newport News). The plan is to later send these barrels to a local brewery, thus adding a true 757 flavor to products coming from the area. When you go, make sure to take the tour as the owner will be happy to go into detail and answer any questions that you can think of. His passion for what he is doing is clear, and he has a very entertaining delivery.
Dead Reckoning Distillery is well worth the visit. There are often food trucks parked to fill your tummy, there are corn hole boards to entertain you, and the staff is friendly and welcoming. A true family business, there is even an area for kids to draw on chalkboards and play calmly.
You can visit the distillery on Fridays and Saturdays at 312 W. 24th Street in Norfolk. ABC Stores do carry the plain rum, but you can special order the others (though I did spot the orange in my local ABC store, too). Keep up with their events by following them on Facebook. You can also check out more information on their website.