Monday, January 30, 2012

Snaps from a Saturday in Sperryville

Inspired by a tip from Refinery 29, BF and I trekked to Sperryville, VA this weekend for what was billed as a "wine and oyster festival."  Sperryville is a rural town nestled under the Shenendoah mountains.  While it was an hour and a half away from D.C., the promise of two of my favorite consumables was more than sufficient to get my butt in gear.

We had a fabulous time, no thanks at all to the oysters and wine portion of the day.

When one hears the word "festival," doesn't one typically visualize variety?  Unfortunately, the Sperryville meaning is different, and the oyster selection consisted of two types of raw Virginia oysters, and one offering of steamed oysters.  No salt!  No cocktail sauce!  I prefer vinegar on my oysters anyway (which they had), but it would have been nice to have options.

Also, the wine portion of the festival consisted of four different types of wine from two different vineyards.

Yeah...a bit of a let-down.

Fortunately, the other offerings at the Sperryville River Arts center delivered!  We enjoyed some local barbeque, checked out a large antique mall...

Amazing bright blue sectional sofa at the antique mall.  (words cannot explain how bright blue this was IRL.)

I got a funky 1950's soup tureen with matching ladle for $13.

...and we toured an operating whisky distillery!

Our tour guide---a brother in law of the family.

Barley, after it is "malted" (i.e., soaked in water for three days so that it just begins to germinate, generating alcohol.  As one of the distillery operators said, it's soaked just long enough for the barley to "think it's going to have a nice happy little life.")

Next, the barley goes into a kiln where it is smoked.  The floor of this room is perforated, and underneath is a wood furnace that heats the barley over three days.

This cat, along with several others, was introduced to us as a "mouser cat," i.e., the distillery's all-organic pest extermination system.

Sniffing the fermenting barley.  It gives off a mostly sweet smell, until you stick your nose past some invisible line, past which the sweet fermenting smell turns into a sour, bubbly, sinus-clearing sensation that goes from your nose all the way up into your brain.  It was funny to see people's initial reactions once they felt that sensation---mainly iterations of "Oh HELL no."

Aging whisky.

The distillery invented something they call the "Waxamatic 2011," which turns the whisky bottles once they are labeled and dipped in hot wax.  It's a bit of a makeshift invention; you can see that parts of it are held together by rubber bands. 

The turning is required, partially because otherwise they will infringe on Maker's Mark's trademark dripping wax --- they were actually issued a cease and desist letter for a few bottles that accidentally dried in a drip pattern --- and partially because the turning wax creates a "C" on the cap, which represents their name, "Copper Fox Distillery":

All in all, a fun and educational afternoon in Virginia!

How was your weekend?

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