Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whiskey Storyteller

After a gloriously long sleep in on Sunday Steve came round with an old army friend who we were taking to Sperryville to shop about the antique stores. I liked Paul immediately when after stepping out of the car he promptly asked me if I made horseradish sauce while pointing out the broad green leaves along the front of the house. I liked him further when I saw photos of his wife and quadruplets that they had adopted from Vietnam, and the beautiful house on which he'd worked along with the vegetable garden he was nurturing. But life had been cruel to him, he had served twice in Iraq and paid the price. The toxic fumes from burning buildings and vehicles had ravaged his heart and lungs leaving him unable to perform to his previous physical ability. He used to be a record runner on camp yet today he seemed to hold no grudges, just thankful for the life he was still able to lead and enjoy.
Our first stop was the diner since we were all famished.We all devoured our brunches rapidly with Steve and Paul finding a novel way to let the waitress know that they needed more coffee.
On the way to Sperryville, Paul entertained us with numerous limericks, songs and poems. He was a self assured narrator and had us laughing, especially when he told us he was teaching his children to recite some of these poems. One of my favorites was The Rhyme of the Chivalrous Shark
We stopped at an antique mall that I'd often driven by and never ventured inside until today. It had plenty of interesting artifacts and wasn't overpriced. I even saw a few possible Christmas presents.
These brought back childhood memories, I used to love playing with these.
Quite possibly the ugliest candlesticks that I've ever seen.
I loved the boat picture and the hero figurines, but especially the cat chasing the squirrel up the wall.
We strolled over to Copper Fox Distillery and was told we could be taken on a tour immediately. We all consented, the place smelled like heaven. A warm whiskey scent filled the air with a sweet spiciness that had me walking about as though someone was pulling a string tied to my nose. I couldn't stop sniffing.
I had been on a previous tour a few years ago and not much had changed, the art of making such a divine drink has been honed to perfection that the routines roll out through the day without a hitch.
I took in some more facts this time round though. At the start of the process, the' heads' and 'tails' or the first and last pour from the fermentation is only about 20% proof, but the 'high spirits', the middle pour is about 150%. The heads and tails are sent through the process again with another batch.
They also produce a Blue Top whiskey which is aged in barrels with smoked apple wood chips for 12 months and then spends an additional 6 months in port wine barrels. The top of the bottle is dipped in smooth blue candle wax. A bottle had once been reported because it had a drip hardened in the wax, resulting in a cease and desist letter from Makers Mark, since their bottles have the dripping red candle wax. Copper Fox now rolls its bottles to ensure a smooth wax finish. Blue Top can also only be purchased form the distillery whereas their other bottles can be bought in retail outlets.
Founding Farmers is a DC restaurant which has adopted the distillery's rye and gin putting their own labels on the bottles. Copper Fox is also opening a new distillery down in Williamsburg. But the best news of all is that in about 2 weeks they will be opening their tasting rooms. Finally!
After our tour we drove slowly through the town and Paul demanded that Steve stop the car as he'd seen a photo he wanted to take. Curious I got out of the car also and shadowed him as he walked up the road, stopping and starting then finally deciding on the perfect spot to take his photo. I took one also.
We had to show him the advertising highlight in town and then as we walked back to the car I spotted this little gnome basking in a sunspot on a wall.
We drove back to Meadow House and sat on the patio, cracking open Steve's single malt from Copper Fox and sparking up cigars, this time a little smaller and easier for me to handle.
This was the last photo I took of Paul before he left. I was howling as I took it and marveled at how I hadn't blurred the shot. This guy is a riot, and I told him it had been a joy meeting him.I think I can honestly say he's the most colorful guy I've ever met in America, as well as being a mine of information. At the end of the evening I hugged them both goodbye and then rushed indoors, frantically trying to record all the useful information he'd given me, including how to make horseradish sauce. His children are going to have a wonderful childhood.

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