I just got back from Louisville. It was an odyssey of a trip and it all began with a spirits competition. The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) holds an annual Spirits Competition each year where they bring in an expert panel of judges to perform a blind judging of all the craft spirits entered. Last year they had over 150 different distilleries from all over the United States submit spirits. They are judged and awarded medals on a point system (which means it's possible for multiple medals to be awarded in each category). This year's judging is taking place at Huber's Starlight Distillery in Southern Indiana, just over the river from Louisville. We did incredibly well last year (READ MORE HERE) and this year StilL 630 has entered a total of eight spirits into the competition with high, but guarded, hopes.
I had to send the spirits in three separate packages, and of course one got damaged. Even though it was blatantly marked "FRAGILE" "GLASS" etc, it got damaged and one of the bottles broke. UPS opened the package and saw it was alcohol so they refused to deliver it, saying that either I or the recipient could come claim it before they destroyed it.
I'd been going back and forth with some of the super nice people running the competition, Teresa McDaniels specifically, hoping desperately that they could have someone pick it up. As you know, it's been snowing pretty heavily lately, and the snowstorm that just passed through is currently blanketing Southern Indiana/Northern Kentucky right now... making it almost impossible for anyone from the ACSA to pick them up.
So later in the evening, after I finished a personal tour of the new Shriner's Childrens Hospital (which is fantastic, by the way!), it took me 45 minutes to inch my way back to the distillery (about 3 miles). The snowstorm was starting to hit heavily, but I finally resolved to go myself rather than have those spirits miss the competition. And at this point, I wasn't exactly sure which spirits were in jeopardy, which made the decision that much more difficult. I knew one was the Maple Sunset, and I finally found an extra bottle at the distillery (which saved me an unknown amount of hours from having to first drive back West to my house and then East to Louisville in this snow traffic).
So I jumped in my car about 6pm and 33 minutes later I'd managed to travel the three blocks and actually get onto the interstate. I arrived at my friend's house (with whom I was crashing) in Louisville a little before midnight, having driven basically on the wings of the snowstorm.
He was waiting up for me and we toasted my arrival (and my birthday, which happened at 12am) and drank for a couple hours before finally heading to bed! I got up the next morning, finally made it to the airport, finally found the right place, and picked up my package (Soulard Island Rum and Maple Sunset) and an hour later I was actually pulling up to Huber's.
The ladies there were extremely nice and visibly surprised that I'd dared to drive all this way to get my spirits into the competition. I'm glad I did though. And hopefully when the results are announced in Chicago at the convention in March, it will pay off in the form of medals... but we'll see!
I'm also fortunate that when my car slid off the country road leaving the distillery, that I slid into the ditch on the side of the road that DIDN'T have the creek. Luckily, I was able to carefully drive out of it and continue on my way. But it was a pretty stressful few minutes where I imagined being stuck on a rarely-traveled back road in southern Indiana... on my birthday. But I ended up making it back home without further incident.
Just felt like sharing some of the behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations of a little distillery and the dedication required. Fingers crossed for March...!!!