HistoryOur Story

historyWhat do you get when you combine local markets, craft distilling, premium products and fantastic customer experiences? – a knockout small business known as KO Distilling. Co-founded by college classmates and long-time friends Bill Karlson and John O’Mara in 2013, this new craft distillery in historic Manassas, VA is both a manufacturing plant and a travel & tourism destination. We make, store, bottle and ship both high-quality clear (unaged) and brown (aged) distilled spirits.  Our products include gin, white whiskey, bourbon, rye whiskey, and other spirits. We are proud to be the 19th operating distillery in Virginia and one of roughly 1,200 (and growing) craft distilleries in the United States. We are also privileged to partner with many other small businesses, suppliers and farmers in the local area.

KO Distilling opened its doors to the public in September 2015. Come by and visit us at our facility’s top-notch visitors center. We provide guided tours, tastings, and product and merchandise sales. We are also available to host special events, such as dinners with spirits pairings. Come see how we make our spirits, be part of the local community, perhaps learn something you didn’t know about distilling, and of course have fun.

The following highlights our journey (so far!)

  • Co-Founders, Bill Karlson and John O’Mara were classmates at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.
  • Karlson & O’Mara Distilleries LLC was established in May 2013 in Virginia and has a doing business as (dba) name of KO Distilling™.
  • KO Distilling received its Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) permit (DSP-VA-20018) from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in August 2014.
  • On January 29, 2015, KO Distilling hosted its official Ground Breaking ceremony.
  • KO Distilling received its Virginia ABC license to manufacture distilled spirits in March 2015.
  • Is located in the City of Manassas, in close proximity to historic Old Town Manassas, just a few miles from the Manassas National Battlefield and I-66, and 25 miles from the DC Beltway.
  • Is the first distillery producing spirits inside the borders of City of Manassas since Prohibition.
  • KO Distilling’s 12,000 square foot facility features a state-of-the-art distilling plant, which includes a 550-gallon Vendome copper pot still; a large storage area to hold bourbon, rye whiskey and other aging spirits stored in oak barrels; a beautiful visitors center for tours, tastings, product and merchandise sales, and special events.
  • In August 2015, KO Distilling received its Virginia ABC Distillery Store Permit to sell distilled spirits on-site and to offer tastings.
  • KO Distilling opened its doors to the public in September 2015.