The Lost Whiskey Lodge: Born from bourbon, fueled by propane
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First, GreenSpur, a Falls Church, Va.-based design-build firm, made buildings. Then it made whiskey. Then it made buildings to drink whiskey in.
The Lost Whiskey Lodge in Northern Virginia is the perfect union between GreenSpur’s love of bourbon and architecture. Situated on 50 acres of former farmland, the project consists of a 3,000-square-foot, six-bedroom main lodge and two small structures where one can soak in the views, glass in hand.
The property demonstrates how propane, a clean-burning fuel, and solar panels can provide reliable energy for luxury retreats in more rural locations. Propane fuels the main lodge’s high-efficiency furnace, on-demand water heaters and cooktop. A modular swimming pool/spa is also heated by propane. Likewise, a small concrete cabin, the first structure built on the property, is completely off-grid with propane and solar panels.
Given the remote location, natural gas wasn’t an option, and going all-electric didn’t appeal to GreenSpur CEO Mark Turner. That’s because propane appliances are more efficient compared to their electric counterparts. Take the pool heater. Propane pool heaters have a greater BTU output to warm up water faster than an electric model. Similarly, a propane furnace provides comfortable whole-home warmth and costs less to operate.
“We’re a big believer in doing what makes sense, and propane for this structure, and for a lot of our rural structures, makes way more sustainable sense than all-electric,” Turner says.
Very little energy goes to waste. The main lodge is constructed with structural insulated panels (SIPs), known for their durability and energy efficiency. Turner estimates the monthly utility bill is around $100.
Inspiration by the barrel
In 2016, Turner and several other architects began a distillery producing single-barrel bourbon. The Lost Whiskey Lodge is an extension of their bourbon brand, Lost Whiskey, and a reflection of their architectural interests.
“We’re heavy on front porches, fireplaces and a sense of gathering,” Turner says of his design practice.
The main lodge emphasizes communal spaces. An 18-foot cherry tree table, floating on two steel beams supporting a loft, invites long conversations over slow meals. (The whiskey barrel lights above the table nod to the lodge’s namesake.) A wood-burning fireplace, a long brass countertop, and the modular swimming pool and spa outside are more features designed to be gathered around.
The property also offers moments of peaceful solitude. The small cabin made of prefabricated concrete features a cantilevered deck with a wood-fired dipping pool — “Takes about four beers or two cocktails for that thing to heat up,” Turner jokes — and a built-in hammock hanging over the hillside. There’s also a separate glass structure on site where you can stargaze before drifting off to sleep.
The Lost Whiskey Lodge overlooks Lost Mountain, where George Washington owned nearly 3,000 acres before becoming president and retiring to Mount Vernon. At the time of his death, Washington owned one of the largest whiskey distilleries in America.
Don’t book a stay at the Lost Whiskey Lodge just yet. This secluded speakeasy is by invitation only.
Photos by Mitch Allen