Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mr. Harris Goes To Washington

It was a grand and sunny day, my first day on the Hill. A dozen of us small craft distillers had assembled from all over the country to settle into a meeting room under the Capitol.  We were there to discuss excise taxes and responsible consumption, while above us, Goldman Sachs fat-cats got grilled by both parties of Congress. Frankly, I think the fat-cats would have rather been in our meetings.

Our long day of lobbying and being shuffled from senator to senator and congressman to congressman concluded with a happy hour and spirits tasting event in the Rayburn building. Hoards of congressional staffers (mostly just fresh out of college) descended on us to imbibe our spirits. We even had a few congressman show up. I'm pretty sure I saw Chuck Rangle, and a senator from Minnesota showed up, though I don't remember his name. I'm not much for schmoozing, even with senators.

We brought all three of our spirits-- the Roundstone Rye, the Mosby's Spirit, and the Watershed Gin. Generally, all three were well received. Most people were surprised by the flavor and the smooth finish in the spirits, which I really appreciated.  We work hard on these spirits, and it's nice when we get someone who really likes them.

There were some, of course, who didn't prefer them, and were perfectly happy to tell me so.

One crusty fellow, overweight and with a huge walrus mustache, staggered up to our table. His eyes were bloodshot and he showed up to this event drunk already. Between mouthfuls of his tuna fish appetizer, he tasted the Mosby's--our white rye whisky--and then immediately remarked with a sour tone, "I don't like that at all. Not at all."

(Could he taste the spirit when he still had tuna in his mouth?)  I politely asked him, "I'm sorry to hear that.  Which spirits do you prefer?"

"I'm a Scotch man. Only Scotch!" he replied.

Fine enough. I'm a Scotch man myself, but I didn't want to engage this fellow in conversation because, frankly, he annoyed me. So I was happy to let the conversation end there and have him be on his way.

As he started to move along, a thought must have struck him, and he swung on his heel and began to lecture me on how I could improve the spirit.

"You need to find a fruit to stick in there. Like a raspberry," he suggested.

"Thank you."

"No, maybe two fruits. Strawberries and bananas. But find some that are local." (Loudoun County bananas? You gotta be kidding me!)

"Thank you."

I patiently endured this ridiculous onslaught while Mr. Scotch-Only enumerated every fruit known to man between more bites from his diminishing plate of appetizers. Apples should make their way into my rye. And cinnamon!

When he was done, he noticed his Scotch glass was empty and wandered off to the open bar.

I watched carefully as he surveyed the rather splendid collection of Scotches that DISCUS had rolled out for the event: Johnny Walker Black, Ardbeg, Glenmorangie... there were some mighty fine single malts and some excellent blended whiskeys offered.

And our Drunk-Walrus-Mustache-Man, Mr. Let's-Stick-Fruit-In-It, sauntered up to the bar and ordered a Dewars.

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