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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Celebrate #NationalRumDay with a Truly American Rum

The waning weeks of summer are upon us. Our longest day of the year has come and gone, and night's curtain is dropping earlier and earlier with each sunset. While falling foliage and Halloween costumes may be just around the corner, there are still a few warm weather festivities left to enjoy on the cocktail calendar and National Rum Day certainly fits the bill. Commemorated on August 16th for no clearly discernible reason, the day is nevertheless a celebration of the first truly American spirit. Rum was the product of the very first distilleries built in the colonies and became a staple of commerce among the major New England ports by the eighteenth century. That era may have passed, but American made rum is no longer a relic of history, as one producer in San Leon, Texas has gone to great lengths to revive the tradition.

Situated a few miles outside of Houston and skirting the waters of Galveston Bay, Eagle Point Distillery is the creation of Kelly Railean, and source of her namesake Railean spirits. Beginning her quest to breathe new life into the legacy of American Rum in 2005, Ms. Railean has taken great care in the selection of her ingredients and the implementation of her distilling techniques. Using only Grade A sugar cane molasses harvested along the Gulf Coast, Railean Rums are produced in small batches, which allows for better quality control during the creation of the spirits. Some of these batches are distilled multiple times, resulting in a clear, smooth, silver rum, while others are specially chosen to have their flavor profile broadened through the addition of spices and various degrees of aging in new, double-charred, American oak barrels.

With such great attention to detail, and a palpable sense of patriotism motivating them, it is no surprise that Railean Distillers received an official 'Made in the USA' certification by the Federal Trade Commission in 2011. This designation is the first of its kind to be bestowed upon an American Rum and recognizes that the full line of Railean products are not only crafted in the United States, but that each bottle bears the fruit of homegrown ingredients and manpower. This level of dedication, to both quality and loyalty to country, make Railean an easy choice for any American's National Rum Day celebration.

Two of Railean's standout offerings are the Spiced Rum and Reserve XO. Both have enjoyed some maturation in their respective charred-oak barrels, though the XO is aged a bit longer and is actually a blend of select batches. The single-distilled Spiced Rum is livened up by various botanicals, and its pale amber appearance has an appropriate caramel/vanilla nose, smelling sweet but very pleasant. Easy to sip neat or with ice, this rum has subtle flavors and only a mild bite, which means it is also a versatile addition to any bar and a significant upgrade from many other spiced selections. The XO, by contrast, is a more refined spirit; it possesses a deeper, golden honey hue and its scent brings more heat into the nostril, mixed with notes of chocolate and toffee. There is very little burn, however. When the Reserve reaches your throat it has a smooth taste and a welcome finish which lingers nicely in the mouth and, being so good on its own, should really only be mixed with ice if you need to beat the heat,

A perfect companion for hot August days and nights, these two American rums exemplify the reason we have a National Rum Day in the first place, embodying the holiday with a spirit that the entire nation can be proud of.

photo by Giselle Hellemn
Contributor Ian Gregory is a product of the 80's and a Tulane graduate, with a BA in History. Born and raised in Manhattan, NYC, he has called New Orleans his home for the last 12 years.

With many nights behind a bar under his belt, Ian has appeared in the Where Y'at Best Bartenders of New Orleans Guide on 3 separate occasions. Now writing spirit reviews for MicroShiner, he doesn't have a twitter handle, but feel free to find him on Facebook 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

@timwenger1: Golden Moon on the Front Range

In Spring of 2016, the residents of the Denver area will finally have rail service out to the far-flung airport on the eastern plains and better transit service for Aurora and east Denver. However, the metropolitan area and its residents absolutely need to continue investing in improved public transit. Slowly, but surely, we are heading in the right direction.



As anyone who has ever lived in a city knows, finding an adequate place to park your car is a nightmare. The metered spots, if you are lucky enough to find one, max out at two hours and when I am on a mission to get faded in the sun or reporting on an event for work, two hours is never enough time. The parking lots and garages are typically filled with business traffic, except for the ones next to Coors Field which cost an arm and a leg to park in.


I absolutely agree that drinkers such as myself should hold themselves to a standard of not driving sauced. With that in mind, we need to continue to fund sufficient alternatives. Not only for drinkers - we lushes certainly take a back seat to more pressing issues like cutting into the burgeoning traffic problem and ensuring that people of all walks of life are able to get to work, school, and about town independently. But there are three big things that, in my mind, are absolutely worth public investment - education, health care, and for goodness’ sake, public transit.


That said, I spend as much time as I can up in the Colorado mountains and to be honest, would much rather be there than in the middle of the concrete jungle. But I am, admittedly, a stalwart fan of a certain lackluster baseball franchise that generally seems more interested in installing rooftop party decks than winning games, and despite the frequent disappointment and significant frustration I can’t seem to stay away from the ballpark the way that all those anti-Monfort dissenters on the Colorado Rockies’ Facebook page are always calling for. Additionally, I spend a good 100 nights a year at concerts for both work and pleasure. With the season in full swing, downtown Denver just seems to have my name written all over it.


Denver’s strong craft market keeps me imbibing at a fairly steady pace no matter where I’m at so the idea of driving as any sort of fecund method of transportation tends to disappear from the realm of rational thought pretty quickly when I’m out. Unfortunately (in this one instance, at least), Denver is not New York or Paris or London or any other city with some semblance of efficient public transit. We do not have a subway system, - we have a mediocre light rail service that, after expansion in the past decade, currently services the south, southeast, and western metro area. Those seeking alternative transportation on Denver’s northern and eastern fringes are, in 2015, left to take the bus or a cab.


From where I live on the edge of Lakewood and Golden, getting home after a night out in the city requires either a light rail trip and a stiff walk or a $50 cab ride. While most of the nightlife happens further east, I made the decision to buy at the base of the foothills because I’d much rather see mountains out my windows than skyscrapers. The area, though, is quickly growing in terms of options for us scofflaws. Awhile back I talked about C De Marra, a whiskey bar I have now visited several times to sip on their in-house barreled whiskeys. A few months ago at the DStill grand tasting , I had my first taste of locally made absinthe from Golden Moon Distillery, and in talking with the crew on hand found out that their distillery is less than ten minutes from my house.


I ventured out there a few mornings back when I woke up thirsty after a late night show. The distillery is tucked away in the back side of an old office building. No big sign, not much parking, very humble appearance. Clearly the type of place that lets its’ product do the talking.



Proprietor and distiller Stephen Gould and his team welcomed me in and treated me to a full tour, led by Assistant Distiller Joey Stansfield.




Gould, not one to be shy when it comes to talking absinthe (or any type of spirit, really) then sits me down at the bar in their small on-site tasting room (they also run a speakeasy a few minutes away that serves all of their products) and begins sharing his story and that of his business. I came into this place a novice in the world of absinthe, but after spending some time with Gould I am confident that I can now hold my own should I encounter a situation in which the green dragon enters the conversation.


“You wonder why artists and poets and writers drink absinthe,” Gould says. “It’s because they like to relax and hang out in cafes and think deep thoughts and talk about deep concepts, and absinthe is just a real pleasant, slow, mild buzz.”


I’m hooked already. But doesn’t absinthe make you trip? Won’t you lose all control of bodily function and end up lurking around aimlessly, mumbling nonsense at a fence post?


“Most of what people know about absinthe is huey,” Gould says, explaining that absinthe is something that is meant to be sipped over a period of time, not consumed rapidly. The stuff even has an underground network of enthusiasts called HG’ers; a group of distillers and guzzlers around the globe that, upon a little research, seem interested in not only consuming absinthe but who have wholly devolved into a frenzied culture of wormwood activists seeking to set the record straight on their drink of choice.


“I have a hobby where I junk for booze,” says Gould. “I find old, weird, rare booze all over the world - antique stores, garage sales, thrift stores. I’ve got stuff that goes back 80, 90, 100 years.” I then listened as he told me that he has claimed to friends that he is not an HG’er, but was called out. I think I’ll side with his friends on this one.


Gould uses some of these old products as inspiration for some of the spirits at Golden Moon - the base of his R&D department. For him, it all started up in the Motor City. “I stumbled across, in the Detroit area, about fourteen years ago a case of Spanish absinthe. One of the big brands of the mid-20th century in Spain. What happened between 1912 and 1915 when Switzerland and then France banned absinthe was a number of your big producers of absinthe all moved their distilling operations out of France into Spain. Most of the brands were run out of business.”


Gould is by now an experienced entrepreneur, having started and ran multiple businesses both in the food and beverage industry and outside of it. He got his start in the craft beer world in his twenties. “I grew up working in restaurants and bars,” says Gould. “When I got out of graduate school, me and two friends decided that we were going to open a microbrewery. We were serious homebrewers. We went out and raised the funds and opened a brewery that down the line failed miserably. But it was a really great learning experience.


“At that time, we explored getting a basic federal permit to distill whiskey as well, and that’s where I actually made my first distilled product which was a malt whiskey. We basically took a beer mash and ran it through a laboratory still. It tasted horrible and we had no idea what we were doing, but that was 25 years ago.”


According to Gould, much of this Spanish absinthe was smuggled out of Spain into Canada, eventually down to Detroit via Windsor. “I’ve actually got a postcard from about 1975 from the Oxford Steakhouse, which still exists, advertising their absinthe cocktails as hangover cures.” Gould was working for Ford Motor Company at the time. He had tasted other absinthes and sworn to himself he would never drink it again, until he tasted this Spanish absinthe. Intrigued, he began to do some research. A couple weeks later he came across an antique encyclopedia containing old absinthe recipes. “If it wasn’t for this book, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. I started to flip through it and I thought to myself, ‘I know how to distill. I understand this and that and the other thing, I can make absinthe.’ The reality is, I didn’t have a frickin’ clue what I was doing.”


As time (and distilling experiments) passed, Gould became friends with a group of HG’ers. “I ended up meeting some very, very talented distillers,” Gould says. “They were really kind and took me under their wing and taught me the skills and steered me in the right direction.” He kept working on his recipe, something Stansfield says has taken well over a decade, until he felt confident enough to bring his product to light.



Since the birth of the concept in the late nineties, Gould’s absinthe has gone on to win awards all over the world. He has met and traded bottles with many of Europe’s most renowned absinthe creators. These days, Gould has an entire team working with him at his small Golden distillery, as well as the Golden Moon Speakeasy at 1111 Miners Alley in Golden, CO. “The reason that we are growing and are as successful as we are is because we’ve been able to recruit and build the team that we have,” says Gould.


Golden Moon Distillery, currently distributing in six states, has reached its capacity at the current location and will be expanding into another building in the next few months with the ability to double its production. Currently the distillery produces 18 different products in house, and distributes another sourced product called Gunfighter Whiskey. “We are selling everything we make,” Gould says. “We have limited distribution in three countries. We have won awards all over the world with our distilled products.”


Gould and his team distill and market a line of brandies that are all produced in Colorado fruit-to-glass. They have a Sweet Cherry Bitters, and their Colorado grain-to-glass single malt whiskey is currently resting in small casks in the distillery and set for release later this year. They also make two different gins. And, of course, their famous absinthes; Gould is now working on a new absinthe product made with Colorado-grown wormwood. For a full list of Golden Moon’s exceptional products, visit www.goldenmoondistillery.com.


After all this wormwood talk and a few hefty tasters, I step outside with an unopened bottle of Golden Moon’s Colorado Apple Jack, pull out my car keys, and find myself suddenly envious of those living in New York or Paris or London. I stand there in the parking lot, gazing west at the Rocky Mountains, many of the jagged peaks still snowcapped from late season storms, and quickly come back to my senses to happily call a cab.

#DrinkBetter: The Golden Eagle from Golden Moon Distillery

If you are looking for New World versions of Old World spirits, you can't do much better than Colorado based Golden Moon Distillery. Founder Stephen Gould has worked diligently to create a unique range of products using mid-19th Century equipment and the same artisan production processes as those utilized by premier distillers in the mid-to-late 1800s.

Here is one of their signature cocktail recipes, in case you can't make it to their fabulous Golden Moon Speakeasy in Golden, CO.

THE GOLDEN EAGLE

1 ½ Ounce - Golden Moon Gin
¾ Ounce - Golden Moon Crème de Violette
1 Each - Egg White
1 Ounce – Lemon Juice (juice of one lemon)
1 Bar Spoon – Sugar

Place all ingredients in an empty cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
Add ice and shake for about a minute.
Strain and serve.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Florida Distillers Receive a Gift Horse

Times change, but the song remains the same.

Such was the emotional response elicited by the latest press release from St. Augustine Distillery, sharing news of the enactment of HB 347.

Not owing to anything related to St. Augustine themselves, its message is both offensive and presumptuous, obviously to a lesser extent, in the way that it must have been to slaves given their freedom or women accorded the right to vote. As if those restoring these rights, rights inherent yet tyrannically withheld, had anything to give, or any authority to gift it.

Not that we’re not thrilled for micro-distillers and craft spirit enthusiasts in the state of Florida. We are. But we are also incensed at the audacity of a system that purports to be, in this day and age of unadulterated freedom, anything more than protectionist and oppressive.

“This new law allows our customers to buy two bottles, per brand, per year,” explained Philip McDaniel, co-founder and CEO of St. Augustine Distillery in St. Augustine, Fla. and co-founder of Florida Distillers Guild. “That means that someone can buy two bottles of our Florida Cane Vodka, two bottles of our New World Gin and two bottles each of our rum and bourbon when they become available to the public.”

In response to the new law, which took effect on July 1st and purportedly gives Florida spirit makers the ability to sell more of their product directly to consumers, St. Augustine Distillery unveiled new brands for their vodka and gin. This allows them to exploit a small loophole in the law, marketing their spirits under multiple brands that customers can then buy direct. More brands are set to hit the shelves over the next six weeks.

This gift from the Florida legislature means that a customer can now buy two bottles of each of the following products from the St. Augustine Distillery gift shop in one calendar year: Florida Cane Vodka, Pot Distilled Vodka, Ice Plant Edition Vodka, New World Gin, Pot Distilled Gin and Ice Plant Edition Gin.

God forbid you should want three bottles, or if St. Augustine should run out of names. Or at least the Florida legislature does.

What is striking about this arrangement, beyond its duplicitous ridiculity, is the glaring light it shines on our inability to completely discard disrupted social constructs, even those proven to be criminal or downright inhumane. As depicted in AMC’s brutally authentic Hell on Wheels, you can change the name of slave to freedman but the relationship, or at least the operating mindset, remains very much the same. Too often, the comfort of familiar constraints is deemed preferable to the apprehension of uncharted possibility.

By selling direct, craft distillers cut out a century of middlemen and disrupt a system that has, until now, remained relatively unassailable. A veritable maze of regulation, unique to each state, exists to bridle what to most seems a rather straightforward proposition, that of producers selling their wares to people who want it.

The obvious solution, allowing retail sales at distillery locations within the boundaries of any given state, is just too easy, too democratic, too direct. Producers and consumers evidently can’t be trusted with such an important transaction. Why else would Florida deem it necessary to enact legislation that clearly serves no other interests than the ones still struggling to maintain their tenuous grasp on a defunct status quo?



Thursday, July 16, 2015

@timwenger1: Craft, Ska and Colorado's Real Drinking Town


The hangover bell rings loud and clear in my head as I lift a 70 pound guitar cabinet into the back of a white 2000 Ford Econoline XL. Rain falls lightly. I am running on only a few slovenly hours of sleep but despite the pounding head, my mood is jovial. My band mates and I recount the night before over and over. In the world of ska music, there are few bands more respected than Hepcat, and few bands more infamous than Mephiskapheles, and we just shared the stage with both in one night. It was also the kick off to the second leg of our spring and summer run- this morning we hit the road out of Denver and head for Durango, Colorado, where we’ll spend a week in the studio and follow it up with two shows in the area including a performance at the legendary Ska Brewing Company.

Alright.

Personally, I am excited for more than one reason. I went to school in Durango, but it’s been six years since I’ve lived there and from what I can tell, the drinking scene has only gotten better. A new craft distillery just opened up, and the number of breweries has jumped from 4 to 6 (All this in a town of 17,000. Fort Collins gets the glory, but at over 150,000 residents, are their 14 breweries and 3 distilleries that impressive? Which is the real drinking town?)

I contemplate this and other pressing issues to pass the time on a 7 hour haul over the Rocky Mountains. As we climb in elevation, my mood levels off. It always does when passing time in the van. Whether I am headed somewhere new or somewhere I’ve been many times, as long as it’s light outside touring has always had a bit of a weird vibe to me. The late nights, the shows, the people, the free drink tickets - that is what it’s all about and what makes it worth it. The rush of playing a good show is matched by no drug or other experience I’ve ever had. But during the day, driving through the middle of nowhere to the next town while getting further and further away from your personal life back home, the anxiety creeps in.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been in a band at a level where touring was our income. I’ve always had to hurry back home after each run and get to work in order to keep the bills paid. Right now, it’s about 9:30 on Monday morning. Everyone I know (except the three guys sitting here with me) is at work, or walking the dog, or heading to the bank, something normal.

Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a level of awesome to all this. I’m never going to be a ‘company man.’ I knew that by the time I hit high school. I take a lot of pride in what I do for a living and for a hobby. But the older I get, the harder I find it to relate the stories of the road and the stories of the pen and the stories of so many nights passed in rock clubs to people who are my age but haven’t had a night out in months. The word ‘baby’ means something entirely different to them.

As Vonnegut would say - So it goes. We pull into town just in time for happy hour but unfortunately the liquor store will have to suffice for tonight; we’ve got to get to the studio. Tomorrow I will have the opportunity to experience some of the actual culture of this town I’ve missed so much.

Tuesday morning I am walking down Main Avenue bright and early in a leisurely search for a cup of coffee and a paper. Part of me feels like a Texan, stopping to gaze into each store window as I pass by and then actually purchasing, after looking around to make sure no one I know is in sight then ducking quickly into the storefront, a “Durango” t-shirt. I’ll have to bury this down in my backpack so my bandmates never see it. I justify the window shopping and eventual purchase as a mere way to pass some time before my scheduled meeting with some real locals, the owners of Durango Craft Spirits, at 10 o’clock.


I walk into the tasting room to meet owners Michael and Amy McCardell. Immediately I can tell that the duo lives by their motto and are ‘Inspired by the true spirit of Durango’ - It is only 10 am but the room is full of bluegrass music and the McCardell’s beckoning call for a drink. Michael handles the distilling of what is currently their sole offering - Soiled Dove Vodka, made from a mash of 60% native grown, non-GMO white corn they get directly from the Ute Mountain Tribe of Ute in Towaoc, Colorado (just a little over an hour from Durango). His soft voice, with a bit of a country tinge, makes even a short sentence sound well-rehearsed and wise. Perfect for telling stories, and I’m guessing he has a lot of them.

Lucky for me, Michael is not at all shy about telling the story of Durango Craft Spirits, his pride and joy.

It is, I learn quickly, Durango’s first post-prohibition, grain-to-glass distillery. “We’ve got a couple friends over at Ska, Dave (Thibodeau) and Bill (Graham), that opened Peach Street (Distillery, in Grand Junction) years ago and one day I met the old distiller and Bill brought in one of their first bottles of gin, along with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire,” Michael says. “It was just unbelievably so much better. That first opened my eyes to craft distilling.”

This was only about ten years ago, and until that day Michael had no plans at all of going into the distilling business. “A couple years later, I’m hiking around a piece of property up north with the county assessor, and he said ‘I gotta tell you this story. There’s a buddy of mine who thought he found some ancient Anasazi ruins on his property and he wanted me to come check them out. They hiked up there on a cliff to an Anasazi looking wall and there was an old still sitting back there.’”

He decided to do some research and try to figure out what kind of distilling was done in the area. “I started reading a few books about distilling in the area, and there was quite a bit done,” Michael says. “Especially turn of the last century when the silver market took a crash. A lot of the miners took to cooking booze in the mines.”

With his interest piqued, Michael attended three distilling schools and landed himself an internship at Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, CO, with the intention of opening his own show in Durango once he learned about the operational side. Both Michael and Amy had spent years in the local hospitality industry managing hotels and a golf club.

As their current jobs came to end due to sell offs, the decision was made to go full-steam with the distillery concept. Step one, securing a location. Where They landed right on the corner of 11th and Main, in the heart of downtown, and opened in January of this year.


Their setup is pretty simple - tasting room in the front, still setup and work area in the back (visible to guests), and office off to the side. Nice and cozy. “We go grain to glass right in the building with all regional grains,” Michael says. “We’re real proud to mash, distill, and bottle right in house.” I had been sold on their concept already, but at this point I could not continue the interview without trying some of their product.

Amy, generally in charge of the tasting room and PR, hands me a pour from behind the bar. I stir, smell, and sip. Then I gasp.

I am not a vodka drinker. My taste for the stuff was ruined by too much Smirnoff as a teenager. But this morning I am happy to make an exception. This stuff is good. Smooth, one of those spirits that you know would be perfect in a cocktail but it almost seems like a sin to dilute it, like a fine scotch. Until you realize that a vodka of such high quality could finally allow you to drink those plastic-bottle vodka infused party concoctions you swore off in your mid-twenties because you can’t stand the headaches any more, without the headache. “I use a pretty strange recipe for the vodka compared to other distilleries, and it gives it a pretty unique flavor.” That, I agree, is easy to notice.


“The product is tied to Durango’s history,” Michael informs me as empty my glass. “Soiled doves being a Victorian term for the prostitutes of the town. They operated into the 1960s in Durango and were fined heavily, with the fines helping to cover the cost of the schools, the police department, and the fire department.”

The McCardells pay homage to these lovely financiers on the back of their bottle. The cocktails served in the tasting room are also related to the town’s history, an effort that has most certainly allowed the curious tourist to feel more accomplished in his imbibing. The distillery looks to release an unaged whiskey this fall, with barreling scheduled to begin this month. The vodka is currently only sold within 150 miles of Durango. “We are being (probably) too cautious about our growth,” Michael says. They do, however, plan to expand further across Colorado. Not bad for a true mom-and-pop and operation.

I like to think that my band is a mom-and-pop operation. I guess it would be a quadruple-pop operation. Like Michael and Amy, we have grown our small company from nothing into nothing less than an amazing life experience, with no real guidance other learned experience. We have made plenty of mistakes over the last eight years but have slowly made progress come from each of them. We’ve dealt with marriages, jobs, mortgages, kids, operational disagreements, and an old van catching on fire on the road, and as life has happened, we have found a way to happen with it. Back in the early days, circa 2007-2010, I put all of my eggs in that basket. I was willing to work crappy kitchen jobs and live in dilapidated apartments so that I would in turn have the flexibility to leave town when I needed to and be able to keep my financial overhead at a bare minimum in order to play music multiple nights a week. I cared about nothing other than making the band succeed. I lost relationships and friends.

The other guys, at least the two I started the group with, did the same. And then, in the fall of 2010, we crashed and burned hard. So hard, in fact, that over the next two years we did next to nothing with the group. We had no money, our leases were up, and we had nowhere left to go. For a while, we went our separate ways. Our biggest lesson, and one of the most important things I have ever gotten out of life, is that you have to have options - you have to have more than one card to play. As we’ve grown up since then, we have found ways to have other priorities in life while still being able to come back and execute with the band when it’s time.

While the band was on ‘unofficial hiatus’, I filled the musical craving in another group, but I was also able to take the experiences I had with the band, mix them with my college degree, and create some kind of shit show career path based on music business and journalism. Five years later I feel I can see it blossoming. To me, the craft lifestyle embodies that same spirit - live life, take what you’ve got, mix in a heavy dose of passion, and throw it to wind. It takes awhile, but when it finally comes full circle, it tastes so damn good.


Tim Wenger is a Denver-based microshiner, journalist, musician, and avid snowboarder. Catch more of his work in Colorado Music Buzz, Snowboard Colorado, and his weekly talk show on worldviral.tv

Thursday, July 9, 2015

In Praise of Slowness and the 32 Hour Work Week

Considering that we humans have literally been to every place on the planet, its rather surprising to find that people are still in such a hurry.

That enigma is the essence of what inspires the Slow Movement, characterized in Carl Honoré's 2004 book In Praise of Slowness as “a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity."

Whether Slow necessarily equates to Quality is up for debate, but one thing is certain, microshiners subscribe to its doctrine. With no vast undeveloped wilderness remaining to harbor fresh prospects the best option is to turn inward, to begin to refine the human experience, to slow down and smell the roses, to literally lead a life, distilled. This is what it means to be a microshiner; to realize that what matters most in life is not waiting somewhere over the next horizon, but right there in front of you.

But most of us are hesitant to accept this reality. We rush about in an attempt to distract ourselves from the fact that the world really is that small, that life truly is this short. Citing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, we fancy that by moving faster than others we will outlive them, while in truth we merely end up leading a life half lived.

Not that there isn’t a need to seize the moment with timely action. To the contrary, this movement is about creating the space and awareness necessary for accomplishing great things. While others scurry about like rats in a maze, the microshiner or practitioner of Slow takes a more meditative approach. It is the classic lesson of the Tortoise and the Hare. Or in the words of Phil Dunphy, “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”

One person who gets this concept, and employs it, is Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse. Since 2006, Carson has maintained a four-day work week at Treehouse. He believes that ensuring balance between work and the life outside it actually makes employees more productive. More importantly, he feels its the right thing to do, for our time and his people.


And that is the thing that is most striking about an inquiry of Slow philosophy: that we now occupy a space in which we actually have the opportunity to practice it, if not attain the balance it proposes. Never before has humanity been wealthier or more at peace than the present, or our physical needs more fully met. There are fewer of us than ever spending our time engaged in meeting these basic requirements. There is no reason not to go Slow.

Microshiners know this. The craft movement is our response to it. Whether it is creating balance amongst our personal obligations, choosing quality over quantity in our purchasing decisions, or simply enjoying a great cocktail with good company, we understand there is much to be gained from a more purposeful and deliberate pace. Our goal is to revel in the moment, to proclaim it in word and deed, in art and experience, to realize as best we are able the amazing gift of our very existence.

We hope you will join us on this journey.





Sunday, July 5, 2015

How a MicroShiner Spends Father's Day

Ryan Montgomery is one seriously cool guy. Not only does he own and operate the exceptional Montgomery Distillery on Front Street in downtown Missoula, Montana, but he is also a big motorcycle enthusiast. When he isn't crafting spirits or touring whisky distilleries in Scotland, you will likely find him cruising motorcycle sites like Silodrome and Pipeburn, working with local shop Number 8 Wire on his latest custom build, or taking his son for a ride on their sidecar mounted BMW.

While you can almost always find one of several Montgomery-liveried bikes Ryan has built parked downstairs in the distillery production space, the time when they really shine is the third Sunday in June. With another stroke of his typical brilliance, Ryan has gifted throttle twisting, alcohol fueled dads of the area with the perfect event: Spirits & Spokes - a Father's Day of Cocktails and Motorcycles.