March Update

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Hello from Taos, New Mexico! It has been a whirlwind ride since our last update at the end of January, and we’ve been extremely busy as work for Lost Lantern has started to ramp up. After months of talking with distilleries, pitching them on our vision for an independent bottler for craft whiskey, and tasting lots and lots of barrel samples, our final plan for our first set of releases has come together. Now, we’re in the process of actually making that happen--and as a result, we suddenly have a hugely increased amount of work to do, even while we’re on the road.

It’s crazy to think that we’ve been on the road for half a year--and we’ve only covered about half the country! We’ve visited dozens and dozens of great distilleries now, but there are lots of innovative whiskeymakers in the middle of the country and on the East Coast too. However, after six months living out of suitcases, Nora and I are just about ready to be back in one place where we can focus on building Lost Lantern. So we’ve made the tactical decision to return to Vermont early in April and take shorter trips later this spring and summer to the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Appalachia, South, and New England. We’ve still got a lot of ground to cover, but we’ll be able to strike out for a week or so at a time from a single home base.

As for the last month and a half--we’ve had a truly exciting time. We encountered nearly perfect weather in the stunning Zion National Park for Nora’s birthday (and, with the shuttles shut down for the season and the government shutdown ending only the day before we got there, we had the park basically to ourselves), but we only got a tease of Bryce Canyon--at 9,000 feet elevation, the amphitheatre was beautiful, but covered in snow. No hiking there. Our national park weather luck finally turned bad at the Grand Canyon, where we were caught in several successive blizzards. Thankfully, on the last day, we were finally able to see the canyon in all its glory! After a few days catching up with friends and visiting distilleries in Phoenix, we flew to Minneapolis for the annual ACSA conference, which was hugely successful. After flying back, we made our way to Tucson, where our good friends at Hamilton Distillers graciously hosted us and showed off their city (special shout-out to all the cactuses at Saguaro National Park--keep living your perfect life!). Then, we made our way to Texas via southern New Mexico (with a stopover at the unbelievable White Sands). Texas has so many great distilleries that we couldn’t hit them all, but we made time for our favorites and met some new friends as well. But we’ll definitely have to come back to hit some of the ones we missed. After Texas, we headed back west to northern New Mexico, and have spent the last few days exploring the whiskey scene in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos.

Today, we head into Colorado, the last Western state we’ll spend a lot of time in, and then in two weeks we’ll start heading back east. It has truly been an adventure, and we are simultaneously so thrilled with everything we’ve seen, and ready to just be home again for a while. Our next update will probably be written from Vermont or Albany, but although the first part of our journey will be at an end, in many ways it will just be the beginning.

FUN STATS

Total miles driven so far, as of March 9th: 18,000

States we've been in since last update: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, New Mexico again

States we’ve been in, cumulative: 23 (New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Nevada, New Hampshire, Arizona, New Mexico)

States we've spent the night in since the last update: 6 (California, Utah, Arizona, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas)

Most beautiful drive: Pretty much everything in Utah

Most beautiful single spot: probably Bryce Canyon

Number of National Parks visited since last update: 5 (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Saguaro, Carlsbad Caverns) (Special shout-outs as well to Mojave National Preserve and White Sands National Monument)

Sunset over the White Sands

Sunset over the White Sands

Number of National Parks visited, cumulative: 18 (Badlands, Wind Cave, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Olympic, Crater Lake, Redwood, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Saguaro, Carlsbad Caverns)

Number of National Parks missed along our route so far: 9 (Lassen, Pinnacles, Channel Islands, and Death Valley in California; Great Basin in Nevada; Canyonlands and Capitol Reef in Utah; Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend in Texas. Sadly lots more to come in Colorado because it’s still winter there)

National Parks we really, really want to go back to: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Saguaro

National Parks we definitely didn’t need to spend four days at: Grand Canyon (it’s pretty, but far from our favorite spot, and all the hikes are extremely easy or impossibly hard - especially in winter)

Most harrowing experience: When we hit a whiteout blizzard entirely without warning in southern New Mexico

Animals we saw: BIGHORN SHEEP! Also, a gray fox, and lots of mule deer, and maybe some goats, which look a lot like sheep

A bighorn sheep in Zion

A bighorn sheep in Zion

Favorite places this month: Zion, Bryce Canyon, the White Sands, that one barbecue place we went to in Dallas

Place we’re saddest to have missed: The McKittrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains

Number of distilleries visited so far (cumulative): around 45, but we aren’t really keeping close track anymore

State we spent the most time in: Arizona, which is MUCH more geographically diverse than East Coasters like us ever imagined

State we spent the least time in: Nevada

Thing we miss the most: Staying in one place for more than three days at a time; cooking for ourselves more than once a week

Trip highlights since last update: getting incredibly fortunate weather in Zion; the White Sands; the ACSA conference, how easy it was to find Weller in Texas

Things we’re looking forward to on our way back: My first trip to Colorado!, the great distilleries of the Great Plains, states you can drive across in less than a day, Kansas City barbecue, the Blue Ridge Mountains

Miles to Wall Drug: variable

Road Trip, Part II

Farewell to the endless sprawl and sunny weather of Los Angeles!

Farewell to the endless sprawl and sunny weather of Los Angeles!

Today we hit the road again! After a month-long stay in Los Angeles, where we were able to focus exclusively on building Lost Lantern, we’re heading northeast, to southern Utah’s red rock canyons, and then down into Arizona in February to start exploring the unique whiskies of the Southwest. Today, we start what’s effectively the second half of our road trip.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in California for two and a half months, fully half the time since we left New York City. But it’s an incredibly big state, and it has no shortage of either great distilleries or stunning national parks--the main professional and personal focal points of our road trip. We visited half a dozen distilleries in wine country alone, as well as lots of breweries and wineries, and have criss-crossed the state from the redwoods in the north to Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada to Palm Springs and Los Angeles in the south (sorry, San Diego--next time!). And we decamped in L.A. for all of January explicitly so we could keep Lost Lantern moving forward on a strategic level. We can keep the gears turning day-to-day while we’re on the road visiting distilleries and meeting new potential partners, but the work of contracts, fundraising, logo design, and product development is tough to squeeze in for an hour a day between long drives and distillery visits.

From that sense, January has been very successful, and it was also a great way to recharge our batteries after months of constant travel. We both have lots of friends here and met with some great people in the extended world of the booze biz, and--as longtime New Yorkers--swiftly fell back into the rhythms of life in a big city (that said, I really disliked a lot about L.A., from the traffic to the constant blinding sunlight, but we certainly enjoyed the warm temperatures and lack of a polar vortex).

I couldn’t be more excited about the second part of our road trip. We spent the first few months on the West Coast for a reason--both to outrun the cold weather and because all three West Coast states are home to a huge array of craft distilleries, many of them quite established, a lot of them loudly and proudly influenced by Scottish tradition. In fact there were so many West Coast distilleries that even in four months we were only able to visit a handful of the best and brightest.

The next regions of the country we’ll pass through are different. The whiskies of Arizona and New Mexico, at least the ones that I’ve tried, are extremely distinctive and reflective of where they come from, but there just aren’t as many distilleries there yet. Texas and Colorado are both craft whiskey hotbeds in their own right, and have intense regional pride and unique approaches of their own--not to mention climates that are very different from either Scotland or Kentucky. I’ve never been to Colorado and have barely been to Texas, and can’t wait to visit the distilleries there firsthand.

Beyond that lie the Great Plains, which is where our trip planning will get really interesting. Although all 50 states have distilleries now, some states only have a few,  and not all of those are making whiskey. As we slowly head back east, we’ll sometimes venture into states solely to visit a single distillery. We’ll always do the research to see if there are newer up-and-comers worth a visit, but even if we visit two or three places, our journey will feel very different from the West Coast, where we struggled even to hit all of our must-visits. In some ways, this lower concentration gives us more flexibility. We don’t have to schedule a week in Arkansas or Nebraska; we can pop in for a day or two, visit Rock Town and Cut Spike when it’s convenient for them, pop by an up-and-coming farm distillery, go for a hike in the Ozarks and wherever they have for hiking in Nebraska, and then move on.

Don’t get me wrong--even places that don’t have many distilleries are making great whiskey. The Great Plains are the corn capital of the entire world, so it only makes sense that distilleries there are embracing bourbon. Estate distilleries revive the farming ethos that motivated distilleries way back in the 18th century. But for a wide variety of reasons, ultimately driven by the area’s lower population, the industry just isn’t as densely established yet.

And beyond the Great Plains lie the Midwest, the coastal South, Kentucky and Tennessee, the mid-Atlantic, and of course our own backyard of New York and New England. Even though we’ve been on the road for four months and visited dozens of distilleries, we’re just scratching the surface of American whiskey and the emerging regionality of craft. There are so many more exciting adventures to come.


American Craft Whiskey Is Good NOW

Craft whiskey deserves a place on the top shelf, and that’s right where we found it at K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood.

Craft whiskey deserves a place on the top shelf, and that’s right where we found it at K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood.

A lot of whiskey writers have the habit of talking about American craft whiskey in the future tense. They write enthusiastically about what new distilleries are working on and producing, and look forward to the day, years from now, when that whiskey "reaches its full potential." I've fallen into this trap myself; when distillers are doing something unique and different, it's easy to get excited about it and yearn for the far-off day when that whiskey will actually be in bottle.

Others in the whiskey world are harsher, and argue that American craft whiskey can't hold a candle to the established traditional producers in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. They say that craft whiskies are no good because they aren't aged long enough, or because they're aged in small barrels, or because they're flawed in other ways. I'll be the first to admit all of these are real issues. The whiskey business is tough, and most new distilleries face huge pressure to release whiskey as soon as they can. Around 90% of the distilleries in the United States opened in the last ten years. Waiting for whiskey to reach a certain age and flavor profile requires more than just patience; it requires money, which is usually in short supply for a new distillery. Many do end up releasing whiskey that has not yet reached "its full potential," even in the eyes of the distillers themselves.

But that's not the whole story. It's true that many craft distilleries don't (yet) offer the same complexity and quality as their traditional counterparts, and will continue to improve over time. But there are also a large number of craft distilleries with truly excellent whiskies that you can buy and enjoy now. Whiskies you can sip, on their own or in a cocktail, and you won't think to yourself, "Well, this whiskey has potential someday," but simply "Wow, this tastes delicious. More please!" There are more and more of these distilleries every year. Of course, not every distillery will appeal to every palate, but if you look, you can find an American craft whiskey that will appeal to yours.

Here are, just off the top of my head, eleven American whiskies that are amazing right now. None of them are sourced, and most are under $60.

  • Westland Peated Single Malt (Washington)

  • Balcones Brimstone (Texas)

  • Ragtime Rye (New York)

  • Cedar Ridge Bourbon (Iowa)

  • FEW Rye (Illinois)

  • Peerless Rye (Kentucky)

  • Sea Fog Single Malt (Rhode Island)

  • McCarthy's Single Malt (Oregon)

  • Whiskey Del Bac Dorado Mesquite-Smoked Single Malt (Arizona)

  • Colkegan Mesquite-Smoked Single Malt (New Mexico)

  • St. George Baller Single Malt (California)

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Honestly, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. I could add another dozen names to the list just from other distilleries we’ve visited, and there are many more great whiskies out there that aren’t as widely known.

Stop thinking about American craft whiskey only in the future tense. American craft whiskey DOES have huge potential, and it will be even better five years from now. But American craft whiskey is also good RIGHT NOW. You don't have to wait any longer. You just have to know where to look.

 

Why We Started Lost Lantern With A Road Trip

The Lost Lantern team at Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, California

The Lost Lantern team at Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, California

Nora and I have been traveling around the country for more than three months now, and although we’ve visited 13 national parks along the way and are having lots of adventures, our road trip is decidedly not a vacation. In fact, we see our journey as an essential and fundamental part of our vision for what Lost Lantern will become.

Craft whiskey is a national phenomenon. Until quite recently, just about all of America’s serious whiskey distilleries were in the three adjacent states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana (a handful of others, like the old Pennsylvania incarnation of Michter’s, held out for a long time after Prohibition and the world wars but ultimately closed long before my time).

That’s not true anymore. Now, there are distilleries in every state of the country, many of them reviving lost techniques or exploring unique ways of making whiskey influenced by their local environment. Some of these distilleries are relatively large and established; some are laying down a lot of whiskey but waiting years until they feel that it’s ready; others are quite small and only sell in their local area.

That’s why Nora and I hit the road to launch Lost Lantern--why we essentially had to. In my former position at Whisky Advocate, I had the good fortune to meet many of the top craft distillers from around the country and get to know their whiskeys. But there are over 1,600 distilleries now, and many of them don’t have the time, resources, or sometimes even the desire to come to New York and introduce themselves to the media. Of course, these smaller distilleries can make great whiskey too. We’re traveling, in part, to find these distilleries that aren’t well-known nationally.

We want Lost Lantern to be an independent bottler of great American craft whiskey--and not just American craft whiskey that already has national name recognition. We love most of those big names too (“big” being a very relative term in craft whiskey) and absolutely want to showcase some of the unique whiskeys they make. But we also want to introduce whiskey lovers to distilleries they don’t already know.

Beyond that, Nora and I believe very strongly in transparency, and that extends to the partners we work with. We’re choosing to travel the country and visit these distilleries in person so we can see how they operate, and so they can see how we operate. Nobody has done something quite like Lost Lantern before, not with craft whiskey, and we want to share our vision for the company directly with the founders and distillers we hope to work with. Maybe we could have launched Lost Lantern without ever leaving New York, explaining our mission and requesting barrel samples by email. But that’s not how we wanted to present ourselves to the community of distillers… nor would it help us advance our own knowledge and palates. We learn so much from every distillery we visit--about production, about maturation, about business, about the weird web of laws that vary dramatically state-to-state. Nora and I have been in the industry in various ways for a long time, but now, having visited dozens of distilleries in dozens of states in just a few months, we’re in the thick of it more than ever before.

And we’re only halfway done!

January Update!

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Happy New Year, and greetings from sunny Los Angeles! We’re so excited for 2019, which will be a big year for Lost Lantern and a big year for us personally as we continue and eventually conclude our road trip and start to roll out our plans for the business and the next stage of our lives.

As of January 4th, we’ve arrived in Los Angeles, where we’ll be spending just about the whole month--quite a nice, warm way to ride out the depths of winter. We spent much of December exploring the sheer breadth of California, starting from the Sierra Nevada and making our way to the Mendocino coast, then to Napa and Sonoma wine country, then briefly down to San Francisco. We spent over a week back east, split between New York City, Albany, Vermont, and Massachusetts for Christmas. Then we flew back to California and made our way down the coast, through Monterey and Big Sur, then over to Palm Springs for New Year’s Eve.

We’ll stay in Los Angeles until the end of the month, when we’ll head to Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon (assuming the government shutdown is over by then). Then we’ll start exploring the great cities of the Southwest, which are home to some of our favorite whiskies in the country. We can’t wait! Best of all--it will be warm there too!

FUN STATS

Total miles driven so far, as of Jan. 4th: 12,750

States we've been in since last update: Nevada, California, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts

States we’ve been in, cumulative: 22 (New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Nevada, New Hampshire)

States we've spent the night in since the last update: 5 (Nevada, California, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts)

Most beautiful drive: Big Sur; Joshua Tree; Appalachian Gap and Mad River Valley in Vermont

Most beautiful single spot: Somewhere along the coast in Big Sur or Mendocino

Place we’re saddest to have missed: Pinnacles National Park, Santa Barbara

Number of National Parks visited since last update: 1 (Joshua Tree)

Number of National Parks visited, cumulative: 13 (Badlands, Wind Cave, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Olympic, Crater Lake, Redwood, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Joshua Tree)

Number of National Parks missed along our route so far: 2 (Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California because of wildfires; Pinnacles National Park south of S.F. because of government shutdown)

Park we went to anyway despite the government shutdown: Joshua Tree, and everyone was very well behaved, at least while we were there… it has gotten a lot worse since the first days of the shutdown.

Animals we saw: Elephant seals and lots of ‘em

Number of days we stayed in Sonoma: three

Number of times we visited Russian River Brewing Co. while in Sonoma: four

Favorite places this month: Mendocino coast; wine country; the Mad River Valley in Vermont; Joshua Tree and the desert in general

Temperature differential, in degrees Fahrenheit, between the beach we walked on in Ipswich, Mass on Christmas Day and the beach in Santa Cruz, California we walked on two days later: 35

Number of distilleries visited this month: 6

Number of distilleries visited so far (cumulative): 23

State we spent the most time in: California (which has now passed Washington and Wyoming as the state we spent the longest amount of time in overall)

State we spent the least time in: New Hampshire

Thing we miss the most: Longer days

Miles to Wall Drug: variable

Trip highlights of the month: Returning to old haunts in the Northeast; several Christmases; getting to L.A. for a solid month of work in one place

Third Month Stats

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Hello from Tahoe, where Nora and I are thoroughly snowed in—giving me time to write a longer update!

As of December 4th, we are now exactly three months into our road trip and fully settled into life on the road! November was a very successful month from both a work and personal perspective, and although we visited fewer distilleries this month, our meetings were generally very productive and promising. We also were able to spend some time catching up on more strategic work in the beautiful Willamette Valley in Oregon at the beginning of the month and again now in Tahoe. In between our work, we saw some truly incredible sights in November—probably our most scenic month so far. And, even though we’ve only been in three states all month, we’ve seen a huge variety of terrain, from the wet, rolling hills of the Willamette Valley to the High Desert of Bend, Oregon, from the coastal redwoods and Central Valley of California to the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin. It has really driven home how diverse the West Coast can be. Of course, a special highlight of this month was Thanksgiving, which we celebrated with parts of both our families in San Francisco.

We’ve also started to have our first experiences with winter weather—and other more unexpected conditions, such as the heavy smoke and debilitatingly poor air quality in much of California (thanks, wildfires!). We spent much of the last two weeks in or near the Sierra Nevada, and for most of that time we had incredibly beautiful weather, far nicer than the mountains usually get this late in the fall. But the weather finally caught up with us as we left Sequoia National Park, when a major snowstorm arrived twelve hours early and nearly trapped us in the park just as we left. Only a serious scramble, and a very helpful park attendant who put on our tire chains, allowed us to flee down from the mountains at a hearty pace of 5 miles per hour. 

Our next stop was supposed to be Tahoe City and a visit to Nora’s cousin Will, but the same snowstorm thwarted our plans by dumping over a foot of snow on the mountain passes. Instead, we stayed in an 1850s hotel in Gold Rush country. The following day, the storm ended in the morning—just enough time for us to cross the high Sierra and make it to Reno before another storm arrived that night. The next day, after a great meeting at a farm distillery in Nevada, we had to try our luck again and make it to South Lake Tahoe. The journey proved surprisingly hairy as yet more snow arrived, but with a little good fortune and a lot of cursing, we made it to Lake Tahoe. We have a stunning view of the lake and mountains in our Airbnb, and don’t mind being snowed in for a few days. 

The rest of December will be a busy month. After Tahoe, we head to California wine country, also home to a number of impressive distilleries. Then we’ll spend a few days in San Francisco for business and pleasure before returning to the East Coast through Christmas. We are, as ever, very busy, often very tired, but always very excited about Lost Lantern and the many wonderful places our adventure is taking us.

FUN STATS
Total miles driven so far, as of Dec. 4th: 10,500
States we've been in since last update: Oregon, California, Nevada
States we’ve been in, cumulative: 20 (New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Nevada)
States we've spent the night in since the last update: 3 (Oregon, California, Nevada)
Most beautiful drive: Honestly too many to count
Most beautiful single spot: The Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park
Group consensus on giant trees: The coastal redwoods make you feel like you’re in Jurassic Park. The giant sequoias of Yosemite National Park’s Mariposa Grove were a little disappointing. But the much larger, much denser sequoias in Sequoia National Park are nearly unreal, difficult to comprehend and incredibly moving.
Proportion of giant trees that are named after presidents, generals, other army officers, or wealthy businessmen [sic]: Like basically all of them
Places we’re saddest to have missed: Tahoe City; Muir Woods National Monument, closed due to dangerous air quality from the wildfires
Place we didn’t plan to go to, didn’t plan to like, but actually enjoyed a great deal: Reno
Amount AP won at roulette, then immediately lost at video poker: $20
Amount NGR won at roulette after already winning a bunch at video poker: $20
Flights taken: zero, thank goodness
Number of National Parks visited since last update: 5 (Crater Lake, Redwood, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia)
Number of National Parks visited, cumulative: 12 (Badlands, Wind Cave, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Olympic, Crater Lake, Redwood, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia) (for those keeping score at home, there are 60 National Parks overall, so we've only scratched the surface!)
Number of National Parks missed along our route so far: one (Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California)
Animals we saw (this category is back by popular demand!): Seals (several times!), a whale (!!!!!!!!), lots of hawks, turkeys, Bigfoot, mule deer, elk, big fearless crows, lots of boring things like humans and pigeons and dogs
Times we saw elk in national parks, forests, or other wilderness places: zero
Times we saw elk in the middle of the street in broad daylight in downtown Bend, Oregon: two
Number of Bigfoot-themed roadside attractions we've visited: one
Number of times we’ve gone to In N Out Burger: two
Number of secret Bible verses hidden on In N Out Burger containers Nora has noticed: zero

Favorite places this month: Crater Lake, the coastal redwood forests, the Sonoma coast, pretty much everything about the Sierra Nevada
Number of times my mom said "wow" at some beautiful sight: Uncountable
Number of times we’ve had to put on tire chains: two
Number of times putting on tire chains was harrowing and nerve-wracking: two
Number of times we had to pay people to help us put on the tire chains: two
Number of people on this road trip who are still wimpy city folk at heart: two
Number of distilleries visited this month: 6
Number of distilleries visited so far (cumulative): 17
State we spent the most time in: California
State we spent the least time in: Nevada
Number of places that smelled like rotten eggs: None, freakin’ finally
Maximum number of seasons experienced in a single day: three, when crossing the Sierra Nevada from fall to winter to summer
Thing we miss the most: States that don't have insane wildfires
Highest elevation we stayed at: 7,200' (Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia National Park)
Miles to Wall Drug: variable
Trip highlights of the month: Bringing our families together for Thanksgiving; giant trees; climbing Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park

Until next time!

Second Month Stats

North Cascades National Park in northern Washington

North Cascades National Park in northern Washington

As of November 4th, we’ve finished our second month on the road, and although we logged a lot fewer miles on our car in October, we still saw a great deal—and began to visit distilleries in earnest for initial discussions of what Lost Lantern is all about. We’ve tried some great whiskies and had some great conversations, and we’re very excited to start bringing our vision for an American independent bottler, inspired by the great and historic Scottish blending houses, to fruition. Although we can’t get too specific about what we’re planning just yet, the roadmap for Lost Lantern is already looking very bright.

But our second month brought more than just meetings. We spent most of the month in Washington, but we still found time to enjoy nature as the fall started to set in. The month proved extremely busy, and we’re excited to take things a little slower for the rest of November as the cold weather approaches and as we head south along the Pacific coast.

FUN STATS

Total miles driven so far, as of Nov. 4th: 7,200

States we've been in since last update: Utah, Idaho, Washington, Texas, Oregon, Massachusetts, Rhode Island

States we’ve been in, cumulative: 18 (New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island)

States we've spent the night in: 7 (Utah, Idaho, Washington, Texas, Oregon, Massachusetts, Rhode Island)

Most beautiful drive: North Cascades Highway in northern Washington

First place we’ve seen snow: Washington Pass Overlook, North Cascades

Place we’re saddest to have missed: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

Towns we’ve driven through that have a dude’s first name: Roy, Utah; Perry, Utah; Layton, Utah; Rupert, Idaho; Paul, Idaho; Jerome, Idaho; Connor, Idaho; Dietrich, Idaho; Gilbert, Washington; Sherman, Texas; Allen, Texas

Town where we bought way more whiskey than we expected: Winthrop, Washington

Silliest town name: Humptulips, Washington

Ferries taken: 1, to Bainbridge Island and back

Number of National Parks visited since last update: 3 (North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Olympic)

Number of National Parks visited, cumulative: 7 (Badlands, Wind Cave, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Olympic)

Number of National Parks missed along our route so far: zero

Other fun natural places we visited: Multnomah Falls, Mount Hood National Forest, Columbia River Gorge

Favorite places in October: North Cascades, Mount Rainier, Olympic rainforest, Columbia River Gorge, Seattle

Number of distilleries visited this month: 10

Number of distilleries visited so far (cumulative): 11

Number of malt houses visited: 1 (Skagit Valley Malting)

State we spent the most time in: Washington

State we spent the least time in: Idaho (which took the prize last month too)

Places we liked far more than we expected and are telling everyone to go to: North Cascades

Number of places that smelled like rotten eggs: Blessedly few, but not none

Thing we like a lot: being back in places with great coffee and beer on almost every corner

Thing we miss about Brooklyn: high-end craft beer bars that aren’t brewpubs

Highest elevation reached: 7’000 (Park City, Utah)

Highest mountain visited: Mount Rainier (14,441’)

Miles to Wall Drug: variable

Trip highlight of the month: Having our first meetings with distilleries and explaining the vision for Lost Lantern; exploring Olympic National Park with family

November will be the first month since we started when we don’t have to fly anywhere, which is a nice treat, and we’ll spend the whole month in just two states: Oregon and California. But they’re both big states, with lots of ground to cover, and we couldn’t be more excited for some of the great sights ahead—Crater Lake, the Redwoods, Yosemite, Sequoia, and, of course, lots of great wineries and distilleries.

First Month Stats

We’ve finished our first month on the road, and it was a big one, most of it spent in the wilds of South Dakota and Wyoming without cell phone service (hence the lack of updates). Still, we wanted to share some details from the beginning of our trip.

FUN STATS

Total miles driven so far, as of Oct. 1st: 4,800

States we've been in: 13 (New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah)

States we've spent the night in: 7 (New York, Ohio, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Pennsylvania)

Biggest place we've been in: Chicago (pop. 2.7 million)

Smallest place we've been in: Kirby, Wyoming (pop. 92)

Most beautiful drive: Beartooth Pass, leading into Yellowstone

Most difficult drive: 50 miles on gravel roads in the Pine Ridge reservation, heading toward the Black Hills from the Badlands

Mammals we've seen: Buffalo, black bear, grizzly bear, moose, elk, mule deer, regular deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, regular dogs, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, cats, humans

Mammals we might have seen but didn't: Wolves, mountain lions, lynx, mountain goats, black-footed ferrets, Bigfoot

Number of National Parks visited: 4 (Badlands, Wind Cave, Yellowstone, Grand Teton)

Number of other parks visited: Lots (Custer State Park, Devils Tower National Monument, and lots of National Forests)

Number of podcasts listened to (Adam edition): Way too many

Number of podcasts listened to (Nora edition): Not nearly enough

Favorite places so far: Custer State Park, the Black Hills, Beartooth Pass, Grand Teton, Wind River Canyon

Number of distilleries visited so far: 1 (Wyoming Whiskey)

State we've spent the most time in: Wyoming

State we spent the least time in: Idaho

Places we liked far more than we expected and are telling everyone to go to: South Dakota

Number of places that smelled like rotten eggs: Way too many

Bottles of Whiskey Consumed: 1 (Buffalo Trace)

Thing we miss the most: Places that have actual coffee instead of just little things of creamer (also, friends and family)

Highest elevation reached: 10,947' (Beartooth Pass)

Trip highlight of the month: Getting engaged!!!!!!!! A kind stranger took this photo of us about a minute before I asked Nora to marry me, and we’ll always have it as a reminder of that special sunny day in Grand Teton.

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The Great Whiskey Road Trip Begins

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So it begins. It's September 2018, and Nora and I are officially no longer residents of New York City—after fourteen years and nine, respectively. Leaving our jobs, our friends, and our lives behind was no easy decision, but we are both ready for a new adventure, and ready to start building Lost Lantern.

Over the next few months, The Great Whiskey Road Trip will take us to many places—numerous distilleries, several national parks, and small and large cities all across the country. We don't know how many distilleries we'll visit, how many states we'll pass through, how long we'll be on the road, or where we'll live afterward. Finding that out is part of the fun.

I have written about craft whiskey for years, and I've had the chance to visit a good number of craft distilleries in that time. The Great Whiskey Road Trip will allow us to visit many more, and see for ourselves what makes each one unique.

Our first month on the road will be a little different from the rest of the road trip. We're kicking off our adventure by visiting some of the great National Parks of the West. Nothing could be more different from the hustle and bustle of New York City. In September, we're going first to the Badlands and other South Dakota parks, then to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Starting in October, we'll be balancing our time more evenly between outdoor adventures and distillery visits.

We invite you to follow along with our adventures, whether you're a whiskey lover, someone in the whiskey industry, or friends and family. If you're a whiskey person, we hope you don't mind the forthcoming photos of mountains and buffalo; for friends and family, we hope you learn a little bit more about whiskey as we recount our adventures. But we can promise a little something for everyone.