Maurertown has perfect water for bourbon

“We tried the moonshine and noticed, despite it being the same liquor, the barrels all made it taste differently,” Dilwari said. “That prompted us to look into it more.”

Dilwari decided to get into the bourbon business, but he needed a name for his brand. That is when Rob Moulthrop, a sales representative for a liquor wholesaler in D.C., gave him one: Filibuster Bourbon.

According to Moulthrop, they originally wanted to open a distillery in D.C., but the water proved too poor for making whisky.

“There is too much iron in the water in D.C. and iron will turn your whiskey black,” Moulthrop said.

So Dilwari and Moulthrop decided to establish themselves in Maurertown, where the water was perfect for bourbon.

Today, Dilwari and Moulthrop are blending Kentucky bourbon and rye whisky in Maurertown. Their facility at 50 Maurertown Mill Road houses hundreds of barrels of bourbon, aging the bourbon for up to 10 years before putting them in a Chardonnay or sherry cask for an additional 60 days.

According to Moulthrop, the idea of aging the bourbon in wine casks came from Scotch makers, who lacked trees to make barrels to age it.

“We call it the genius of convenience. Scotch makers didn’t go out looking for sherry barrels, they just used [them] because that’s what was available,” Moulthrop said. “Here they don’t because we have plenty of trees. So we decided, why not give it a try ourselves.”

Moulthrop said producing whisky is a difficult feat because of how long it takes to age.

“There’s some people who release their whisky young or use wood chips to give it color and smell,” Moulthrop said. “If you’re a whisky drinker, you’ll notice and you’ll never buy it again. You can’t rush aging.”

Since producing bourbon at the end of 2013, business has been tremendous, with the company clearing a little less than $500,000 its first year, according to Dilwari. The brand has spread to 16 states, including Virginia, Maryland and D.C.

Moulthrop said the most important aspect of selling the bourbon is keeping the supply stocked.

“You don’t want to run out, because that will kill your brand,” Moulthrop said. “You have to get sales going, but if you get a big order, you might have to turn it down, because building the brand in the long term is more important than selling it all at once.”

Dilwari said his company is poised to start distilling its own whiskey within 18 to 24 months. Presently, Dilwari buys distilled “white whisky,” commonly known as moonshine, from producers in Indiana and Kentucky. He then ages the whiskey in the barrels. However, Dilwari does have a small copper still he has been distilling gin with.

“Our gin should be on the market within 60 days,” Dilwari said. “We buy the juniper berries for the gin from a local farmer and as we master aging our whiskey, will begin to age our gin as well.”

Currently, the only full time employees of Filibuster are Dilwari and Moulthrop. According to Dilwari when the company needs personnel for bottling, Shenandoah County has an experienced labor market to contract with.

“There are four wineries around here and every one of them has extra people,” Dilwari said. “Whenever we bottle, we go to the wineries and get their extra laborers and bring them over here.”

Filibuster Bourbon has produced three varieties of whiskies: a Kentucky straight bourbon, a limited edition sherry-aged bourbon and a rye whisky.

MAURERTOWN -- It all started as an experiment. In 2011, Sid Dilawri and his brother were selling moonshine at their father's liquor store in Washington, D.C., when they came into possession of some whiskey barrels. One was a burgundy wine barrel, another apple wood and the other an American oak barrel. They put the moonshine in the barrels and let them sit for six months.