KO Distilling

  • USA, Virginia
  • Double Gold Medal for Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Gold Medal for Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon
  • http://www.kodistilling.com/
Phone Number
  • +15712921115
  • 10381 Central Park Dr STE 105, Manassas, VA 20110

KO Distilling exterior with blue awning.


The Genesis of KO Distilling

KO Distilling traces its origins to 2013, founded by lifelong friends Bill Karlson and John O’Mara. Both graduates of the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), Karlson and O’Mara embarked on this entrepreneurial venture. 

They embark this journey after retiring early from their respective careers in defense contracting and service in the merchant marine and the United States Navy Reserve. Their shared history and dedication set the foundation for a unique venture in craft distilling.

Establishing the Distillery

The vision of Karlson and O’Mara materialized when KO Distilling broke ground in 2015 in Manassas, VA. This step marked the beginning of a new chapter as they established a state-of-the-art production facility.

The distillery was not just a place for spirit production but also quickly became a local attraction, drawing visitors to experience the art of craft distilling firsthand.

The Vision and Early Products

KO Distilling was born out of a vision to create high-quality craft spirits using locally sourced ingredients. The distillery’s initial offerings in 2015 included unaged craft whiskey and gins, showcasing their commitment to quality and innovation.

This approach resonated with the community, setting KO Distilling apart in the burgeoning craft spirits market.

Milestones in Spirit Production

A significant milestone was reached in November 2016 when KO Distilling unveiled its first aged spirit, Bare Knuckle American Wheat Whiskey.

This achievement was a testament to the founders’ dedication and expertise, marking KO Distilling as a notable player in the craft distilling industry.

The Impact of KO Distilling

As one of over 1,200 craft distilleries in the US and one of only 50 in Virginia, KO Distilling prides itself on its role in the community and the craft distilling industry. The distillery has become a destination for those seeking authentic, locally crafted spirits, contributing to the growing appreciation of craft distilleries in the region and beyond.


  • Double Gold Medal for Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey
    • Awarding Body: San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
    • Details: A 4-year-old, 100-proof whiskey made from Virginia-grown grains (70% corn, 20% wheat, 10% malted barley). This award highlights the exceptional quality and craftsmanship of KO Distilling’s products.
  • Gold Medal for Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon
    • Awarding Body: San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
    • Whiskey Age and Composition: A 6-year-old whiskey with a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley.
    • Additional Info: Distilled in Indiana and aged in Virginia, showcasing KO Distilling’s excellence in spirit production.
  • Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association Distillery of the Year Award (2020)
    • Recognition For: Excellence within the Virginia spirits community.
    • Significance: Underlines KO Distilling’s significant presence and contributions in the local industry.
  • Additional Awards for Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
    • 94-Point Rating: At the 2021 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
    • Gold Medal: At the 2022 John Barleycorn Awards.
    • Gold Medal and 94-Point Rating: From the Beverage Testing Institute.
  • Bronze Medal for Battle Standard 142 Barrel Finished Gin
    • Awarding Body: American Distilling Institute.
    • Category: Aged Gin.
    • Implication: Reflects KO Distilling’s versatility and expertise in creating diverse spirit types.

KO DISTILLING Tour Information and Experience

Tour Overview

Visitors to KO Distilling can expect a comprehensive tour of the distillery. This includes exploring the production facility and barrel room, providing an in-depth look at the process of creating their spirits, from grain to glass. The tour is an opportunity to learn about the distillation process, aging, and bottling of their products.

Tasting Room Experience

The distillery features a beautiful tasting room where visitors can enjoy a cocktail. This space is designed to be both cozy and inviting, complete with a traditional bar area, a copper ceiling, oak accents, and a large fireplace surrounded by leather couches. It’s an ideal setting for tasting KO Distilling’s craft spirits and understanding the nuances of their flavors.

Products Available for Tasting and Purchase

During the tour, visitors have the chance to taste various spirits produced by KO Distilling, including their award-winning whiskeys and gins. After the tour, guests can purchase bottles to take home from the distillery store. This includes their Distiller’s Reserve Whiskeys, Bare Knuckle Whiskeys, and Battle Standard 142 Gins.

Special Events and Venue Rental

The distillery also serves as a venue for special events. With a great room designed to host events ranging from weddings and rehearsal dinners to corporate events and casual gatherings, KO Distilling offers a unique setting for various occasions.

Tour Scheduling and Availability

The distillery has specific hours for tours and tastings. As of the latest information, the tasting room is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with tours available upon request. It’s recommended to check their official website or contact them directly for the most current schedule and to make tour reservations.

Location and Contact Information

KO Distilling is at 10381 Central Park Drive, Suite 105, Manassas, VA 20110. They can be contacted for further inquiries and to schedule visits.

Visitor Experience

The distillery aims to provide a memorable experience as a manufacturer of spirits and as a tourism destination. The emphasis is on providing an educational and enjoyable visit, allowing guests to fully engage with the process and passion behind KO Distilling’s spirit production.

Flask & Barrel Review of KO DISTILLING

As someone who’s visited quite a few distilleries and has a pretty solid whiskey collection, I’d say my visit to KO Distilling was up there. I’d rate it a solid 4.7 out of 5. Here’s why:

First off, the tour itself was super insightful. Having been on many tours, I often find them either too technical for newcomers or too simplistic for enthusiasts. But KO Distilling struck a perfect balance.

The guide was knowledgeable and passionate, explaining the distillation process in a way that was both detailed and easy to understand. You could tell they weren’t just going through the motions but loved what they did.

The tasting room experience was a highlight. It’s not just about sampling the spirits; it’s about the ambience, and KO Distilling nailed it. The room had a cozy, inviting vibe – perfect for kicking back and enjoying their products.

Speaking of which, their whiskey lineup was impressive. As a collector, I’ve tasted a wide range, and I was pleasantly surprised by the unique profiles of their spirits. The Bare Knuckle Whiskeys had a distinct character that stood out.

Also, the fact that they focus on ‘grain to glass’ production is something I respect a lot. In an era where many distilleries outsource parts of their process, it’s refreshing to see KO Distilling taking pride in sourcing local ingredients and controlling every aspect of production.

My only minor gripe? I wished the tour had delved deeper into the aging process, especially since it’s such a crucial part of whiskey-making. But that’s me being a bit of a whiskey geek.

In conclusion, whether you’re a seasoned whiskey lover or just starting, KO Distilling is worth the visit. They have great vibes, excellent spirits, and a team that loves their work. Deserving of its 4.7 rating in my book.


Manassas National Battlefield Park: This park commemorates two major Civil War battles. It’s an ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts, with miles of hiking trails, monuments, and museums to explore. The park offers a rich historical experience and is a must-visit for anyone interested in American history​​.

Hylton Performing Arts Center: The Hylton Performing Arts Center is a great destination for those who appreciate the arts. It hosts a variety of performances throughout the year, ranging from classical music to ballet, plays, and musicals. The center is also home to the Manassas Symphony Orchestra, Manassas Chorale, and Manassas Ballet Theatre​​​​.

Heritage Brewing Co.: Beer enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Heritage Brewing Co. This brewery, founded by veteran brothers, offers a range of bold and flavorful beers. They also host regular events such as Karaoke, Open Mic Night, Trivia Night, and food trucks on select days​​.

Freedom Museum: This museum in Manassas commemorates local veterans and those who supported the home front. It features guided tours conducted by local veteran guides and hosts regular events like guest lectures and panel discussions​​.

Nearby Dining Options: Manassas offers a variety of dining options near KO Distilling. Some notable restaurants include Rangoli Indian Restaurant, Ashton Family Restaurant, Tony’s New York Pizza, Nathan’s Dairy Bar, and CJ Finz Raw Bar & Grill. These restaurants offer a range of cuisines and are located within a short distance from KO Distilling​​.

Autobahn Indoor Speedway & Events: For those seeking adrenaline-pumping fun, the Autobahn Indoor Speedway offers European-style indoor go-kart racing with state-of-the-art, Italian-made electric Go-Karts that reach speeds up to 50 mph. They also feature axe throwing for an adventurous experience​​.

The Great Xcape: This unique escape room and virtual reality experience in Manassas is perfect for an exciting group activity. It’s suitable for couples, friends, kids’ birthday parties, business team building, and more​​.

Signal Hill Park: A great spot for picnics, Signal Hill Park offers amenities such as a waterpark, basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, an amphitheater, and numerous walking and exercise trails. It’s a perfect location for a relaxing day out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near KO DISTILLING?

Bella Vita Italian Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +15713798560. Their address is 9675 Liberia Ave Unit 109, Manassas, VA.

The Black Sheep Restaurant: This restaurant is rated 4.6 stars on Google Maps. You can contact them for reservations at +17034202028. It is located at 9935 Discovery Blvd, Manassas, VA.

City Tavern: City Tavern has a 4.1-star rating on Google Maps. To book a table, you can contact them at +17033300076. The address is 9550 Center St, Manassas, VA.

What hotels are near KO DISTILLING?

Holiday Inn Manassas – Battlefield, an IHG Hotel: It has a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them at +15712925400. Their address is 10424 Balls Ford Rd, Manassas, VA 20109.

Manassas Junction Bed and Breakfast: This hotel has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. You can contact them for reservations at +17032167803. The address is 9311 Prescott Ave, Manassas, VA 20110.

Tru by Hilton Manassas: Tru by Hilton Manassas has a 4.5-star rating on Google Maps. To book a room, you can contact them at +17034201500. The address is 10550 Gateway Blvd, Manassas, VA 20110.