photo of the devastating 1998 ice storm from http://afpstudio.com
Growing up on the west coast, I had never really heard of freezing rain. When the ice storm hit Ontario and Quebec in 1998, I didn’t really understand how it happened. You mean hail or… umm snow? So it rained? Then instantly froze on the ground? I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. You could say I grew up in a very temperate climate. Then it hit me - literally hit me when we were driving into Erie, OH. It was a complete down-pour but the ground was as slick as a hockey rink. Lucky for us we had just pulled up to a Super 8 Motel. My fingers froze as we unpacked the instruments and here is where I finally learned the definition of freezing rain.
The next day was grey and cold and all we could think of was getting somewhere warm. We flew (side note - Clem don’t fly any faster than 55 mph) through states with wet/cold/snowy/sloppy countryside flying by. Cleveland, OH came and went, but as we passed, we definitely sang the opening song from The Drew Carey Show a bunch of times.
photo of Roebling Suspension Bridge
I don’t know if we were delusional from lack of sleep and warmth or if Cincinnati was the most beautiful city we had ever seen. The Mississippi River swirled through the city, curving around sky scrapers and highways. It was awesome. As we were leaving town there stood big red and green letters, on the side of as many buildings as letters, proclaiming “CINCINNATI”. Please correct me if I’m wrong about my 25 second introduction to the city, but it looked bad-ass.
We kept on and finally made it to La Grange, OH, where we parked it for the night. We had one more day of long haul driving before we made it to Nashville, TN.
At this point the weather had not gotten any warmer, and Clem at times was reverting back to the Montreal Maneuver days. As usual I was getting pissy about being in the snow and the cold weather - wondering why the hell I brought a pair of flip flops.
The next day was, to say the least, my favourite part of the trip. It was the first sunny day in many days and we were itching to get on the road. Not even an hour into our day, (let’s say 10 am?) we spotted the Jim Beam Distillery. I think we discussed stopping, or maybe it was both our love for whiskey and the unspoken realization that we were already on the exit ramp, but we were headed right for it. I mean, I can’t speak for Dan, but me, I love whiskey.
The property was beautiful. It was on a gently sloping acreage with big barns dotting the hills and little red barns tucked at the ends of pathways. The distillery was in a timber frame barn with floor to ceiling windows and inside were bottles of whiskey and Jim Beam everything. I instantly wish that my whiskey loving friend Chris F. had been with me. He’s the only one who understands the obsession.
Anyways, we went on this awesome self-guided tour through some of the properties and checked out the old ways they used to make whiskey. At the end we each got to sample two whiskies. These weren’t just wet-your-whistle samples, they were enough to get a mouth full. We tried two shots of whiskey each, at 10 am, on an empty stomach. It was delicious.
I tasted Jacob’s Ghost, which is a white whiskey that is aged for at least one year in a white oak barrel. It tastes very similar to the original recipe, but with a hint of popcorn and pepper. I also tried the Signature Craft, aged for 12 years with notes of caramel, deep vanilla and oak. Both were super tasty.
Being Canadian, we thought it was appropriate and kind of our duty to try the maple whiskey. It was warm with a sweet swish of maple that left a smooth caramel finish in your mouth. The last one we sipped was the Jim Beam Black. This was aged for 8 years and was dubbed to be elegant, smooth, and refined. All was true. We felt like sophisticated socialites as we sipped our free sample, but at the same time tasting the tradition and passion that had gone into these whiskies for generations.
We finished the tastings primed and feeling adventurous. We got back to our faithful steed, Clem, and had the brilliant idea to start a video blog. I remember asking Dan, when should we start it? His answer was… “Right now of course!” And there in that moment, in the parking lot, we started a video blog. Here is the outcome of that one…
It was a good time, I highly recommend you stop in there. Tell them Kasey sent you, I don’t think they’ll ever forget me. Just kidding… I did nothing outrageous.
Next stop Nashville.