The year is 1634 and the house of Burgesses was ordered, by King Charles,
to create a new form of local governments in the Virginia colony each with it's own local officers.
The term shire, was replaced a few years later with the term county.
The Virginia colonies were given mandate by the King to establish a government.
The Virginia Territory was divided into 8 shires, each shire had a Reef overseeing the government within each reef.
The ‘Shire’s Reef’ what is thought to be the origins of the word sheriff.
The following is a list of the 8 shires that were created in the year 1634;
Accomac Shire - now Northhampto and Accomac Counties
Charles City Shire - now Charles City County
Charles River Shire - now York County
Elizabeth City Shire - extinct, now consolidated with the city of Hampton
Henrico Shire - now Henrico County
James City Shire - now James City County
Warwick River Shire - extinct, now consolidated with the city of Newport News
Warrosquyoake Shire - now Isle of Wight County.
Today we honor the past shires by creating our historical Gin, Rum and Bourbon under the 8 Shires label.
8 Shires is a micro craft distillery located near the heart of the beautiful Colonial Williamsburg.
During the colonial period, methods associated with alcohol distillation for consumption developed new and much more palatable products. Until Rum and Genever Gin were developed, distilled spirits tasted much like moonshine. Rum and Genever Gin’s superior tastes opened new doors to the art of distilled ethanol presentation, overwhelming the taste and sales of the ‘moonshine like whiskies’. Barrel aging or ‘putting up’ then revolutionized the whiskey industry creating what we now know as Bourbon and Scotch.
Distillation technology changed dramatically during the colonial period allowing for more discreet separation of products. Alcohol and other products could be separated to new levels of purity. London Dry Gin was born of the necessity to separate bastardized drink from pure drink. Distilled extracts from plants now found new uses in food preparation, science, perfumes, and medicine.
Originally thought to have developed in Holland as an herbal medication, Whiskey-based ‘Genever Gin’ from grains including American Maise (corn) quickly rose to popularity. Gin came to the Americas through England when Dutch King William, along with his wife Mary, abdicated the English throne. 8 Shires distillery is currently the only distillery using heritage Indian Corn as base for its Genever Gin.
Thought to be first produced from the left over molasses from sugar production, modern Rum is produced from sweet molasses or sugar, much different from colonial molasses.
8 Shires Distillery recombines molasses components to recreate colonial style molasses for Rum production.
Since 18th century whiskeys were no more refined than moonshine, Rum’s superior taste quickly launched it to market domination, inciting war and piracy for its possession. To impress and influence his constituency, George Washington demanded only Caribbean aged rum for his inauguration. This 8 Shires Distillery Caribbean style barrel aged rum is the only known rum using 18th century style molasses.
Maise (corn) was first documented in mash production in 1620 in Charles City, VA by the Reverend George Thorpe. It’s said that Thorpe distilled corn beer, and thus made what would later become known as Bourbon whiskey. 8 Shires distillery is currently the only distillery using heritage Indian corn as base for its American Colonial wheat style bourbon.