I’m originally from Oregon and my husband is from Wisconsin. Between our two home states we’ve kind of covered the micro-brewery landscape. If we wanted to be beer snobs, we’d have justification. The thing is, neither of us drinks much beer anymore. Maybe it’s because we live in the Deep South now, but we’ve both switched to stiffer stuff. So when TEDx Charleston held it’s speaker party at the new micro-distillery in Charleston — it was the one social event Gary willingly attended. They make a mean gin, and they didn’t pay me to say that.
But it was on our last trip to Milwaukee that I actually got to “tour” a micro-distillery. My brother-in-law bought us a bottle of Rehorst Gin a while back and I even found it at our local liquor store in Beaufort, SC — it’s that highly ranked. So Great Lakes Distillery was top on our to-do list when we spent a week niece-sitting. They went off to school like good girls; we hit the spirits.
To call it a “tour” is a bit overstated. We were led down stairs from a bar serving cocktails well before noon, to a basement. Where there are some fermentation vats, a row of oak barrels and a copper still. Pretty copper still. But that’s it. Nothing to see here. The longer you ask questions the less time there is for tasting. Which is why people “tour” the Great Lakes Distillery. Because in addition to the aforementioned Rehorst Gin, they make utterly neutral and natural vodkas (I’m told that’s a good thing — meh?) a tasty rum from sugar beets called Roaring Dan, some god-awful pumpkin flavored concoction (a nod to the season, and women who don’t stop at pumpkin and cinnamon scented candles) and then the best surprise of all.
I’ve never liked whiskey. Or Bourbon. Which makes me pretty much an embarrassment to my Scottish heritage and a pariah in my adopted land of the Deep South. Brown liquor always tasted bitter and burned going down. I’m no wimp — I take my tequila and mezcal straight and strong — but I couldn’t take whiskey. Until I tried GLD’s Kinnickinnic Blended Whiskey — on my birthday. It was the best present of the day and I’m now going to lead a one-woman crusade to bring it to Bill’s Liquor in Beaufort. Besides, what other tour celebrates a convert’s birthday by marking the chalkboard with the number of days since prohibition ended?