Posts Tagged ‘Whidbey Island Distillery’

After our haunting Holland Happening experience (you saw how we turned out after exiting the Gravitron), it was time to get down to business…whiskey business.  I’m not much of a drinker – the occasional glass of wine, maybe a beer after working on the property in the heat of summer (that would be when the thermometer reaches the very rare (there are no fans left to be found at Home Depot) 80 degrees).  And here I was sitting at a table with bona fide sippers of the grain, expert in their assessments.  I, on the other hand, have never been a whiskey drinker; well, perhaps once in my youth, which is why I may be a bit put off by the spirit.  But that was a long time ago and I was willing to let bygones be bygones.

Whiskey-Before_edited-1The line up on the table in the photo to your left does not represent the order in which the whiskey was tasted, and some brands did not make the photo cut because I took the photos after the tasting when the bottles looked more like this (see below):


1)Jack Daniels Unaged Tennessee Rye, 2) Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Aged 12 Years; Bulleit 95 Rye American Whiskey, Makers Mark 46, McClelland’s Islay 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, and Laphroaig Islay 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.

The tasters included William Bell, Bev Heising of Whidbey Island Distillery, Whidbey Island authors Mike McNeff, Mare Chapman, and Rowena Williamson, Bedford Cheese Shop Cheesemonger extraordinaire Nate McElroy, and me.  Oh, did I mention that William hosted us down at Local Grown?  Now I know how he stays so very mellow while drinking so much coffee.  (Note: This was a private party. No rules were broken.  Let me add here that the rumor Local Grown is installing a whiskey machine, like the one shown below, is not true.)

whiskeyAlong with the whiskey there were cheeses to sample and pair with the spirits. The finest among the cheese was a wedge of Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Dairy in Dodgeville, Wisconsin that Nate brought all the way from NY. You’re beginning to understand why he’s my favorite, aren’t you.  p-best-in-classWe also enjoyed Britt’s pickles out of Seattle, Fermin Iberic Salchichon, and Screamin’ Banshee Bread from right here on the island.

Nate was in charge of the pour so you know every taster had an ample sample.  Experienced tasters saw the sample to your left:9143738-whiskey-in-a-crystal-shot-glass-isolated-on-white

This is what I saw:The_simpsons_flaming_moes_02

There was a “dump it” bucket for those who wanted to walk out of the coffee shop, but I seemed to be the only one using it.  I’d like to be able to break down the descriptors used by the participants for you in accord with each whiskey, but after the first sip, I knew I’d never be able to match one with the other.  Here are a few of the words I do remember: Refreshing, light, vanilla, apples, cherry, oak, smooth on the tongue, lingers at the back of the throat, moss, smoke, hints of orange blossom (I may be making that one up).

Here are my descriptors: FIRE IN MY MOUTH! BURNING!  MY TONGUE HAS GONE NUMB! GOOD GOD, ARE MY LIPS STILL ON MY FACE?  Tasting the Laphroaig and the McClelland’s Scotch reminded me of standing in the middle of a debris burn I did my first winter on the island that lasted for a week.  Back then, I was sure I must be smoldering days after the burn was over, that’s how strong the smell of SMOKE around me remained.  I tried to listen as Mare and Rowena (the Scotch experts) talked about the peat moss used, the fire, the barrels, etc., but I was having a hard time doing that while gobbling down bread to calm my taste buds.  Thinking back on this, I’m reminded of Tom Hanks in Big when he tastes caviar for the first time.

I’d like to say I have a sophisticated palate when it comes to sampling spirits in their purest form, but I don’t.  So, here I sit weeks later looking at these near-to-full bottles of Redbreast and Bulleit Rye and the thought comes to me: I would probably like them a great deal if I used them to accentuate my chocolate truffles.  Now we’re talkin’.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

whidbeyislandI’ll end with this note. Yesterday, May 17, marked my four year anniversary here on the island.  Thanks to all who have made my stay here some of the best years of my life.  To those who have followed my silly little blog during that time, hand-to-heart gratitude for riding along with me.


Thanks wipwapweb.com for the “whisky” machine.

Moe’s flaming drink from images4.wikia.nocookie.net


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Last weekend we celebrated the first pour of Whidbey Island Distillery’s Loganberry Liqueur.  If I had technological prowess, I would add audio of hands clapping, cheering, bravos all around, but I don’t, so I can’t.

But I can tell you this:  The Heising Family (Steve and Bev here)  took that sweet and tangy berry and turned it into a just plucked from the vine masterpiece.   Speaking of masterpieces, Akemi gifted one of her beautiful watercolor paintings to Steve and Bev for the tasting room.  Lily, the fallen mastermind behind Whidbey Island Distillery, made a brief appearance at the backdoor, but photos weren’t permitted.  Once again, friends and fine food made for an awesome evening.

I’ve got my autographed bottle of Whidbey Island Distillery Loganberry Liqueur sitting on the counter waiting to be paired up with some vanilla ice cream…you’re always welcome to join me…but you better hurry.

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Last night was Game Night.   Bev, Akemi, Peggy, Linda and I try to get together once a month to catch up with each other and play a few games.  Several months had gone by since  last we met, so we had a lot of catching up to do.  And to add to the fun of it all, we got to sample Whidbey Island Distillery’s first batch of Loganberry Liqueur; beautifully crafted from bottle to beverage.  We sipped, we sighed, we added splashes to our Bisol Proseco (from bayleaf, dontcha know), and we spooned a sauce made from the liqueur over our cheesecake.   Congratulations to Whidbey Island Distillery and the Heising family!   But, alas, I have disconcerting news to report on the WID front.

As those of you who visit here regularly know, I interviewed the true mastermind behind the workings of WID – Lily.  (If you haven’t read those posts, I highly recommend reading The Interview – Part 1 and The Interview Part 2 before continuing.)  As you can see (if you took my advice), Lily was a force to behold.  (I still have a tiny scar over my left eye to prove it.)  But like so many meteoric rises, perhaps too quickly, power (and the fumes from the still) got the best of Lily and her tower of power came tumbling down like a house of cards.  At first it was just a few little things:  showing up late, liquor on her breath, too many “coffee” breaks.  The real trouble started with the tattoo – Garfield Sucks – and the piercings.  And there was no turning back when she started running with the wrong crowd – a pack of up-to-no-good raccoons.  Raccoons so vicious, it saddens me to report that Sam ‘n Ella are no more.  Well, Sam is still running through the yard, but Ella’s feathers were spotted here and there and, dare I say, Lily was seen sporting very similar feathers as a headdress.  The last time Bev and Steve saw Lily she was running through the woods, her Ella headdress bobbing up and down, vole pelts around her neck, and a feral look in her eyes.  But we’re not giving up on Lily here at Greetings from Coupeville.  We’ve created SOUL (Save Our Unemployable Lily).  You can contact me here for information on how to donate.  Without Lily at the helm of Whidbey Island Distillery Steve and Bev might panic and hire this guy to take her place.   We can’t let that happen.  Please donate today.

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Perhaps you’ve heard by now; I mean, if I’ve heard about it, who hasn’t?   Katie Couric called it quits over at CBS, Meredith Viera is history come June on the Today Show.   Low ratings?  Brighter tomorrows?  A book deal?  Don’t believe a word of it.   Fear has led them to their spur of the moment decisions.   They weren’t up to conducting “The Interview” and, subsequently, were dismissed from their jobs.

My sources tell me Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer weren’t even considered – “too lightweight when it came to ‘The Interview.'”   The Anderson Cooper 360 team and Mr. Cooper, himself, did make an appearance out at Whidbey Island Distillery, but when they saw what they were up against, they fled.  Larry King thought he might make a come back just to be able to say he delivered the goods when no one else could, but when She snapped his red suspenders, King went running, okay, hobbling away like a sissy.   Her people thought about calling Geraldo Rivera.  I jest.  “Al Capone, are you in there?”   Like She would let anyone that bogus near her, let alone interview her.

Believe me when I say I was more than a bit nervous when Her people called me.  Would I be interested in interviewing Her?  “I’m headed to California.  I’ll get back to you,” was my response.  While in California I had time to ponder my decision; see old friends one more time; visit with my favorite child; make amends wherever necessary (not really).  Perhaps it was the overbearing heat, perhaps it was being so close to the neighborhood where I survived Catholic school and Sister Mary Delores with her lightning fast ruler; where I survived game after game of “butts up” hand ball with my older brother.   (Yes, if you lose,  you have to go up to the wall, bend over, and the winner gets to throw the handball as hard as he can at your rear end.  The one game I think I ever won, I missed.)  So, with all these hard-won life lessons under my belt, I thought How hard could it be to interview Her?

Upon my arrival at Whidbey Island Distillery, Bev warned me, “Don’t look her directly in the eye.  Keep your head below her head at all times.”  When asked if I had brought a gift, I blanched with embarrassment.  I searched my pockets and found some lint covered poco dolce chocolate pieces left over from a purchase at bayleaf (corner of Alexander and Coveland in Coupeville, don’t ya know), and my library card.   By the look on Bev’s face, I could tell I had wandered into dangerous territory even before beginning  “The Interview.”  “There are some live mice in the closet, ”  Bev said.   I wondered if it was too late to call Brian Williams over at NBC; then I realized he’s far too intelligent to let anything happen to that handsome mug of his.

I sat in the room with Bubblin’ Betty.  I hadn’t seen her since New Year’s Day.  Still every man’s dream, that one; though not much of a conversationalist.  While waiting, I reviewed my script.  Background notes on Her were in place, and intelligent questions regarding the operation at Whidbey Island Distillery had been judiciously prepared for “The Interview.”   I was ready.    I felt that old rush of adrenalin that used to set in before stepping in front of my audience to teach Stress Management and How to Lower Your Blood Pressure with Your Mind seminars (yes, I get the irony).    I was about to succeed where Couric, Viera, Walters, Sawyer, Cooper and King had failed.  I was about to interview the real brains and power behind Whidbey Island Distillery.

Two and a half hours passed before the door handle finally turned to the left.   The mice in the closet started to scratch at the closet door.  A small voice whispered, “It’s too late for us.  Save yourself.  Get out while you still have time.”   The door hinges squeaked.  A black shoe, worn down at the tip; the kind of worn down that comes from kneeling or groveling, crossed the threshold.

Stay tuned for “The Interview – Part 2.”

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