Last Friday night, I sent my husband a text at 12 am that read “I fucking tired.” He replied, “I come home.” He’d been in Chicago since Monday. At four am, he stumbled into our bedroom, which was almost 80 degrees even though I’d attempted to reprogram the thermostat four times that night. I forgot to press “hold.” In the morning, I woke him up to do what we do on Saturday mornings and per typical we didn’t much talk for the rest of the day. We did our separate chores. Mostly he writes and edits his homily and does hours of churchy-priestly duties. I clean, shop, prep food, garden, write.
So, after a week of stressful parenting, working, training, sleeping separately and hardly talking, we earned our date last Sunday.
Meet at the Winchester**
This week, the Winchester was Old 55 Distillery. It’s a drive into the corn fields, deep in. As we turned onto the old country by-way, dark clouds rolled up. The chlorophyll in the green things took on the florescence of storms, as if it were thundering and lightning. It wasn’t yet. We passed the radio station I disc-jockeyed weekend dead hours and the texts buzzing “A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issue for your region” started coming through our cell numbers and google numbers and emails. We were too far into the boonies for my “Yes” to reply and shut down the sixteen texts we would receive.
I love the taste of a good bourbon on the front center of my tongue. It’s like caramel with a zing. Old 55 Distillery makes one from sweet corn that’s clear like vodka, sweetish but not silly or sticky. All their bourbon comes from the family farm. Farm to still? To flagon or highball? What would you say? We’d just visited St. Augustine Distillery the month before, so on the first visit out, we still had the taste of sugar cane whisky on our palate. We joked as we drove through Wingate, where my husband had taken me to an old USPS Christmas party early in our vegetarian years. We’d choked down white biscuits, reconstituted mashed potatoes and buttered canned corn. How good can Indiana whisky be? (Honestly, I wasn’t wowed at Hotel Tango, an early arrival on the Hoosier scene.)
We arrived with plenty of time to sip and mellow before driving home but the owner Jason Fruits offered us a tour and tasting for ten bucks a piece. His wife was bartending behind a sleek glass tower of beautiful white labeled whiskey bottles. A cadre of locals and a gorgeous Berniedoodle meandered around the lobby’s sofas and handmade tables. It’s aesthetic- gray-blue walls, natural wood tables, steel trim catered to the tastes of urban chic. It clashed with down-home locals flannel shirts and crisp jeans.
Jason took us back to show us the corn his father and brothers grew. His hands air caressed the handcrafted, one of a kind stills that gleam. He explained the triple distillation, the milling, mashing, the exclusive “hearts only” to the bottled whisky. We dipped our fingers into heads he wouldn’t use and licked. We sniffed tails. I commented on the vintage Chevy his father had left. He showed us where the family labeled and crated the bottles.
Back in the lobby, we had thirty minutes to sip four different whiskys, including his most exclusive, then we split a handcrafted Old-fashion. We bought a couple of bottles for my birthday party and left too soon to make friends with the regulars.
Sunday, after a week of zombie non-talking, we decided on Old 55 again. This time, we needed to debrief about the troubles of the week. I’m not much more than a taster when it comes to bourbon, scotch and whisky. I go downhill fast if I have more than a thimbleful. But we needed to get out of town. A good drive and a spot of liquor will loosen stiff tongues.
We never saw the rain or thunder but the electricity was out when we stopped for crackers in Wingate and it was dark at the distillery.
Still, Jason hailed us inside. Still the room was full of farmers, laughing together. I ordered bourbon on ice. Husband ordered his old fashioned. Jason asked about us, remembering us from six months before with the startling clarity of a studied man, a good businessman.
Always carry cash. And a journal. And your husband’s CDs.
We had the journals, but not the first or last on the list. The last might have been a nice way to make up for being four bucks short of paying our full bill, since we couldn’t use plastic. Oh well. We would have to come back for a bottle before we leave for Maryland and my father’s birthday. My dad likes a good Scotch, expensive and clean. He swears he hates bourbon but we are convinced if we take him some Old 55, it’s smooth taste will delight him. We’ll just need to sharpie off “bourbon” on the bottle. If he ever met Jason and nerded over the chemistry, he’d love it like a regular. He just needs to go knee high into the corn with us a bit.
**The Winchester is the a registered trademark of Shaun of the Dead and the inspiration of my reviews of local places.