It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since we left New York City and started exploring the United States on our Great Whiskey Road Trip. The year has flown by. The craziest thing is, even though we spent a full eight months on the road, we barely covered half the country--and even that not as comprehensively as we would have liked. There are just so many distilleries now doing interesting things, in so many different places--some of them quite far-flung. We just couldn’t do everything, not in individual states nor across the whole country.
Luckily, The Great Whiskey Road Trip wasn’t the end of our travels and adventures, but just the beginning. And we always knew we’d have to hit the road again to hit the regions we missed. We wandered the West Coast and the Southwest pretty thoroughly, and did the best we could in the Mountain West when we weren’t thwarted by blizzards, bomb cyclones, and other natural phenomena. But we spent almost no time in the Midwest or in the South, besides a very brief visit to Kentucky.
Well, more than a year after we got started and only four months after we got back to the Northeast, we’re hitting the road again. Are we going to do the whole rest of the country this time? We wish! Nope, but this time we’re focusing on one region of the country pretty much exclusively: the Midwest.
We’re only going to be on the road for three weeks this time, but we’re really going to pack it in. Starting from Vermont, we’re cutting across New York State and southern Ontario to get to Michigan--one of the hotbeds of American craft brewing, and home to a goodly number of pretty large, pretty established craft distilleries that we honestly don’t know that much about. That’s actually a theme throughout the Midwest… with a few exceptions, the big names in craft distilling in the Midwest just don’t get the same kind of attention that the flagship craft producers of the West Coast do. We don’t know why that is, although we have theories (including that the Midwesterners drink it all before it can make it to the coasts!). But we’ve observed it consistently, and it’s all the more reason for us to dive deep into the region’s distilleries.
Over the three weeks to come, we’re going to wander through Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. We’ll visit around twenty distilleries, including some of the biggest names and promising places that we’ve never even tried before. We’ll miss lots of others we wish we had more time to hit--we won’t make it to Minnesota this time, or back to Iowa, or to the interesting triangle of distilleries in southern Indiana. Because this won’t be our last trip either--we’re already in the early stages of planning another trip that will cover America’s traditional whiskey heartland, as well as the up-and-coming Southeast.
But for now, we’re all about the Midwest. And the whiskey is the big draw, but we’re still excited for everything else we’ll enjoy along the way. Cheese, sausages, deep dish “pizza,” Canadian wine, Michigan wine, the elusive Lake Superior. We’ll do some hiking and boat-riding and falls-watching and more. And we’ll taste some really great whiskey along the way!