KO Distilling is a craft distillery located in Manassas, Virginia. Co-Founders Bill Karlson and John O’Mara (the “K” and “O” in KO) met at the US Merchant Marine Academy. Both were Navy Reservists, had successful careers, and retired early. Neither being content to sit idle, in 2013 KO Distilling began its journey to create craft spirits with local ingredients and high-quality methods. Bill and John’s backgrounds in engineering inspired advanced distilling processes. Their passion for great spirits continues to drive attention to detail and quality.
KO Distilling handcrafts Bare Knuckle Whiskeys, Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Whiskeys, & Battle Standard 142 Gins. Visit KO Distilling in Manassas, Virginia for craft cocktails, spirit tastings, distillery tours, bottle sales, special events, and more!
Virginia Spirits Trail
Located in historic Virginia, the birthplace of American Spirits, KO Distilling is a state-of-the-art craft distillery that creates award-winning spirits with local ingredients.
Lifelong friends Bill Karlson and John O’Mara (the “K” and “O” in KO Distilling) met as classmates and cadet midshipmen at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). After successful careers and retiring early, Bill and John set off to create craft spirits with local ingredients, high-quality production methods, and a passion for involving their local community.
KO Distilling broke ground in Manassas, Virginia, in 2015. For the first two years of production, the distillery operated a 500-gallon Vendome hybrid pot & column still. In 2017, the addition of a 30-foot Vendome column still enabled the distillery to increase production capacity and to prepare for future demand. KO Distilling’s two-barrel warehouses hold an ever-increasing store of whiskey to support longer aging and future products.
KO Distilling’s line of Bare Knuckle Whiskeys include Bare Knuckle American (White) Whiskey, Bare Knuckle Wheat Whiskey, Bare Knuckle Rye Whiskey, Bare Knuckle Bourbon, and Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon. Inspired by courage, strength, fortitude, and using your hands to get things done, the Bare Knuckle brand is a play on KO – “Knock Out” and the bottle labels feature historic fighting figures.
Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon and Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Rye Whiskey represent KO Distilling’s ultra-premium line of whiskey. Made from 100% Virginia based grain, these whiskeys are handcrafted by KO Distilling in one distilling season, aged for no less than 4 years in KO Distilling’s federally bonded warehouses, and bottled at 100 proof. Four centuries ago, the first American whiskey was distilled in Virginia, giving birth to a new industry which has endured against unfathomable odds. That spirit of perseverance, distilled through 400 years of craft, is proudly presented as the Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond expressions.
Battle Standard 142 Navy Strength Gin, Battle Standard 142 Standard Strength Gin, and Battle Standard 142 Barrel Finished Gin are named in honor of the 142 Cadet Midshipmen from the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) who lost their lives serving their country in World War II. KO Distilling co-founders’ alma mater, the USMMA, is the only federal academy authorized to fly a Battle Standard (flag) in memory of those brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice. Battle Standard 142 Gins are distilled with neutral grain spirit in a state-of-the-art 500-gallon Vendome hybrid pot & column still. The botanical recipe is consistent across all expressions including juniper, bitter orange peel, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, angelica, orris root, and grains of paradise.
KO Distilling spirits have won a variety of awards, most notably Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Rye Whiskey, and Bare Knuckle Rye Whiskey Cask Strength have all won Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. To learn more, shop online, and ship KO Distilling spirits nationwide, visit kodistilling.com.