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KO Distilling celebrates completion of $900,000 expansion, tripling production capacity

In a time-honored maritime tradition on Nov. 16, the proud co-founders of KO Distilling in Manassas rang a merchant ship’s bell celebrating the completion of a $900,000 expansion which has more than tripled their production capacity and will create more jobs.

The expansion for the producer of small batch whiskies and American-style gins, was made possible in part due to a $25,000 grant from the Virginia Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund and a matching $25,000 grant from the City of Manassas.

“It’s great to see this expansion come to fruition,” Manassas Mayor Harry J. Parrish II was quoted as saying in a news release.  “We look forward to the growth and future opportunities that this brings.  The KO Distilling story is an inspiration to other entrepreneurs and great accomplishment for the City of Manassas.”

“This is an exciting day for the KO Distilling Family, our customers and suppliers,”  co-founder Bill Karlson was quoted as saying in the news release.  “Thanks to the support of the state and local governments, we will now be able to triple our production. As a grain-to-glass producer of local spirits, this also means we’ll be tripling the amount of grain we buy from neighboring Virginia farms.”

“Distilled spirits is a volume industry, and until recently, our production has been limited to a batch approach,” according to co-founder John O’Mara. “Our new column still enables continuous distillation, and as a result, we will be able to produce more and keep up with the increasing demand for our award-winning portfolio,” he was quoted as saying.

Highlights of the distillery expansion include: a new Vendome Copper & Brass Works 30-foot high, 12-inch diameter continuous column still; six new 1,000-gallon fermentation tanks; a new 1,000-gallon Vendome mash tun; a new and much higher capacity boiler and chiller system; and larger grain silos.

In addition, the KO Distilling made improvements to its VA ABC Distillery Store and tasting room, which boasts unique enhancements such as a stunning feature wall and overhang created from charred bourbon barrels.

KO Distilling was founded three years ago by long-time friends Bill Karlson and John O’Mara (the “K” and the “O”), who were classmates at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Ground was broken on the existing facility in late 2014 and the Distillery opened its doors nine months later.

Initial annual production was 225 barrels, and as a result of the recent expansion, KO expects to produce more than 800 barrels/year. 

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