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Pulaski County’s first distillery now open

Published: Mar. 27, 2021 at 1:23 AM EDT
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FAIRLAWN, Va. (WDBJ) - Pulaski County’s first legal distillery opened its doors Saturday.

Friday night, after receiving a county proclamation, family, friends and county leaders celebrated J.H. Bards Spirit Co.’s opening.

“Being officially welcomed to Pulaski County is a great feeling,” co-owner Jason Hardy said.

Pulaski County was the draw for Hardy and Jayson Hudson to start production last fall.

“We knew that Pulaski County had a great reputation for welcoming new businesses in and really having a great community feel to them and that’s what we were looking for,” Hudson said. “We felt we would be better served being a little bit away from the population centers and having a destination spot for people to make it to.”

Fairlawn is in the center of the New River Valley, so both owners say the location will be ideal for people around the New River Valley. J.H. Bards is inside the county’s business incubation center.

The Economic Development Authority is also housed at the incubation center. Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Guthrie said it helps new businesses to find grants and solutions to get them off the ground. New businesses can rent space at the facility to launch their businesses.

“That gives businesses that begin here that connection very closely to our economic development staff, and they do a tremendous job of helping these businesses to begin to grow,” Guthrie said. “Like a nest, this is the place where businesses begin and then they expand and grow outside of the bounds of the business.”

“The center is kind of a gem,” Hardy said. “It’s an incubator of sorts, there’s lots of businesses here in the center itself. We see it as a great opportunity because there’s an audience here already built in.”

“We couldn’t think of a better place to have a business begin than right here where that’s the purpose, is for businesses to begin,” Guthrie said. “We just don’t see very many that have the public come in.”

This makes J.H. Bards stand out. The production area is adjacent to the tasting room—a unique setup you don’t normally see with a distillery.

“Our job is really to provide a great experience when people walk in the door here,” Hardy said. “If we can do that and do it on a consistent basis, I think that along with being first will be great for us.”

You can enjoy your spirits on the loading dock—or socially distanced inside. The distillery sources everything from Southwest Virginia.

“We’re not here just to make a dollar, we’re here to make an impact on Pulaski County and the New River Valley as a whole,” Hudson said.

Hudson and Hardy are both from Blacksburg and created a whisky club in 2017 when they moved back to the area. When people come to their business, they want to teach the community what they do and why, what’s in the bottle and how to properly evaluate the whiskey.

“After hanging out with those whiskey folks and teaching and educating, it really became the only option that we could do,” Hudson said. “Whiskey is what we love.”

J.H. Bards opens Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and is scheduling tastings every 45 minutes. There will be live music from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the Bluegrass BBQ Food Truck from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The distillery will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. You can schedule a tasting Mondays through Thursdays.

J.H. Bards is located at 6580 Valley Center Drive in Fairlawn.

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