The Lessons my kids Learned at the Blackfish Distillery

When my oldest son (he’s 14) was younger (perhaps 7 or 8), his most favorite television show was Disney’s Phineas and Ferb. I remember in every episode, Phineas would say, near the beginning of the episode, “Ferb, I know what we’re going to do today!”phinferb That is pretty much how it happened in our house on the last Friday morning of our Winter Break.

I had wanted to spend the day snowshoeing, however, Josh (aka The Whiskey Lover) has slept in later than normal and the kids weren’t in any rush that morning. So, after a little while of lounging around, Josh said, “I know what we’re going to do today! Let’s check out the BlackFish Distillery!” He explained with was less than an hours drive away in Auburn and he saw that they had a Rye Whiskey, which Josh has really been into lately.

So, we got up, got going, and set out for the day’s adventure in finding the Blackfish. As it was heading into New Year’s weekend, we did not take into account the traffic, so the drive that should have been less than an hour ended up being about two hours. It worked out though, since youngest son ended up taking a nap while older son amused himself by listening to his iPhone music…read that- THEY WERE NOT FIGHTING!

IMG_2361We found The Blackfish Spirits Distillery and entered their very nicely put together, though small, front tasting room. We were quickly greeted by owner and distiller, Micheal Gifford, who was at once inviting and full of energy! We explained that for us, Josh’s passion for whiskey was more than “just tasting alcohol”, it’s a family affair where we find many adventures together. We also mentioned that younger son wants to be a brewer when he grows up, and that, my friends, is the moment that what would have been just a normal tour and tasting, turned into a lessons filled, more personalized and in-depth experience! IMG_2362

“Learn to be a Learner”. That is what Michael told Lane several times. Michael explained how he has changed careers and had to learn new things his entire life. In fact, the distillery has only been open for three years, and he said he has had to teach himself so many new things, so you’ve always got to be ready to learn something new every day.

“There is Science in Everything!”. Michael talked to both of the boys how important science is, not only to distilling, but in just about everything we do. And math is actually used daily! He had cool atom manipulative that showed the molecular make-ups of a couple different alcohols. And that was pretty cool because I explained that we had just given Lane a chemistry set for Christmas! molecules

“Know how to tell a good story!” Since Lane wants to be a brewer someday, Michael kept reminding him that you can have the best product out there, but if people don’t know you’re there, you’ll never be able to sell your product. And for people to know you’re there, you have to be able to tell a really good story to hook them in quickly (and with in one to two sentences!) He encouraged Lane to remember his story (I have Lane’s story in an earlier post, “My Kids and their thoughts on Whiskey.”) as it’s pretty cool to know from age 3 on what you want to do!

“Taste a lot of food!” You know, this is seriously the first time, in all the distilleries we’ve been to, that the distiller really talks about needing to know flavors of foods and how important it really is to know how things TASTE, and how flavors taste TOGETHER. Be a chef. Take risks with flavors. But don’t go overboard or you can ruin an entire batch worth thousands of dollars! I liked that Michael told Lane he needs to taste a variety of foods…he never said he had to like them, just taste them. And our little Lane is a VERY PICKY EATER, so I really appreciated hearing this and it’s already been useful to get Lane to taste new foods! Whoo Hoo!

“Work with others around you and help one another out!” Like most local craft distillers, the Blackfish works with Washington State farmers to obtain their grains, fruits and spices. But then Michael talked about his friend that is a chef nearby who helps immensely with flavor pairing and when to NOT add any more vanilla! And while Josh and I were tasting their whiskey and liquors after the tour and lessons, we were offered chocolates by Gosanko Chocolates, located about a block from The Blackfish. And wow oh wow, that was some amazing chocolate! (Michael told us the brief story of Gosanko Chocolates and how every single chocolate is done by hand. And they are right there in Auburn! And you can find them at Pikes Place Market in Seattle, among other places!) They boys and I loved the chocolates and loved the lesson in working with others.

and probably the greatest lesson of the day…

“Family is where it’s at!” When we had first entered the distillery part, we met Michael’s two sons who are an important part of the making of spirits, marketing the brand, and running the business. It’s a family affair. Michael told us stories about the family adventures they had as the boys were growing up, always doing something different together, learning together. (Like one time, they made a boat. Okay, not just a boat, but an actual real working Pirate ship that is still on display at a dock near them!”) Michael reinforced to my boys that you HAVE to go to school, because they teach you good stuff, but it’s when you’re home with your family that the real important learning happens. He said to the boys to be grateful for all the places we’ve taken them, that by seeing new places, you always learn new things- about the people, about different cultures, about yourself. And you’re family is there to back you, and you’re there to back them. You’ve got to have your family, it’s what’s most important. Yep, pretty awesome for the boys to hear.

Yes, Josh and I did taste the whiskey and other spirits The Blackfish creates. You can readIMG_2363 Josh’s blog at The Whiskey Lover  (www.thewhiskeylover.com) to learn more about the whiskey (especially the rye whiskey he purchased!) because he really does a great job going into the depth of the tastes and smells. All I can tell you is that it was good!

But as I’ve mentioned before, and will continue to state, as The Whiskey Lover’s Wife, my job is to celebrate my husbands fulfillment of this passion for tasting and learning about whiskey in a way that allows my entire family to be involved and find new adventures! I didn’t know when we headed to Auburn on that Friday how much my boys would learn about life. It’s been said “It takes a village”, and I believe wholeheartedly that every person you meet and every experience you have is part of the village that teaches our young. Our family would like to thank Michael Gifford and The Blackfish Spirits Distillery for a positive life shaping day!  (Hey, we knew it was going to be a great day and experience when we saw that Luke and Michael wore the same type of hat and both had pea coats!) IMG_2364

If you get the opportunity, please visit The Blackfish Distillery, located at 420 37th St. NW Suite A, Auburn, Washington. www.blackfishdistillery.com 

 

***Please note that The Whiskey Lover’s Wife does NOT receive an compensation for any reviews of distilleries or products I talk about. And PLEASE always drink responsibly! Whiskey tasting is an art. We teach our sons that you should NEVER drink to get drunk, and we loved hearing from Michael Gifford that a good distiller simply tastes their product but never over-consumes because you’ve got to keep your head on straight! Another good lesson!

 

Suncadia and Brown Sugar Bourbon Holiday Adventures

suncadiawAs Christmas Break begins, I really don’t think anyone is more excited than the kids…unless you’re a teacher! Or even a principal! And the December 2017 start of break found the Stoney Family giddy for winter vacation! We left bright and early the Thursday morning before Christmas to head over the mountains and through the woods, to Suncadia Resort we went! The Suncadia Resort is located in Cle Elum/Roslyn, Washington, just east of Snoqualmie Pass.

Originally, Josh had suggested we go to my favorite place in Washington, which some of you may know or remember, is Leavenworth. However, this time of the year, if you hadn’t made reservations months in advance, there is no where to stay! So, I brought up the idea of Suncadia since our family had not been there before, and it is similiar to Sun River Resort, Oregon (as both resorts are owned by destinationhotels), where we had vacationed (rented a house there) several years ago and loved it! We had agreed on just one night at Suncadia, but I sure wish we would have stayed longer! Quite the fun place and I highly recommend a trip there. Plus, seeing it all decorated for Christmas was just spectacular!IMG_2261

At the resort, there was PLENTY for the boys and us to do, from ice skating at the outdoor ice rink (Lane taught himself how to ice skate, with big brother Luke’s help, and that was a joy to watch!), to sledding (although the fun was short lived when Luke annihilated his sled in an ice patch!), swimming at the large and very nice swimming and gym center, (the boys and I enjoyed swimming, water slides, and most importantly, the awesome outdoor hot tub, while Josh took an opportunity to use the gym facilities to get a workout in!), to many different and delicious restaurants. There was even wine-tasting for the mommy and daddy at the Swiftwater Winery and Restaurant!

But, being this is the Whiskey Lovers Wife blog, I need to begin with the true intent of the blog. Roslyn, Washington is a mere 10 minute drive (less than that if it hadn’t been snowy and icy) from Suncadia. Roslyn may be small, but it’s history is rich and the town became a bit famous due to a television show in the early 90’s called Northern Exposure. As we walked about the cute little town, after enjoying a wonderful meal at “The World Famous Brick Saloon”, we crossed the street to the newly opened tasting room in Roslyn, The Heritage Distillery. hdros

If you head on over to The Whiskey Lovers latest blog, he shares this week about his experience, gives tasting notes to the newest Heritage Rye Whiskey in the collection, and pairs his tasting notes with Scripture from the bible. Absolutely fascinating read.  https://thewhiskeylover.com/2017/12/24/whiskey-and-his-word-self-discipline-part-2/

The moment our family stepped into this beautiful showroom, all four of us found so much to look at and be in awe of! Luke found a black and white historical book on the Coal Mining History of Roslyn, while Lane was drawn to the design of the building (he says he’s always taking notes for how he wants his brewery to be some day!), while Josh and I were drawn to the tasting area…Josh to order up some whiskey to taste and I couldn’t stop staring at, the first of it’s kind that I’m aware of, Spirits Growlers Filling Station! Isn’t it amazing???!!!

 

Josh and I both ordered up two whiskeys to taste and one cocktail to enjoy. I tried the Double Barrel Bourbon and my favorite, The Brown Sugar Bourbon for my tastings and the Hot Buttered BSB. Josh tried the Old Fashioned Bourbon and the Old Fashioned Rye (it’s this Rye that was his muse for his latest blog), and he enjoyed a cocktail called The Bohemian, that included Angostura aromatic bitters and ginger ale.

 

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We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent at the Heritage Distillery in Roslyn, and left with many gifts for ourselves and others, definitely boosting the economy there!

Before leaving to come home on Friday, we took advantage of the snow that was falling and the well-marked hiking trails by snowshoeing down to the river to explore a bit. It was absolutely gorgeous!

 

I even caught a picture of my husband taking a video of himself, which may or may not have ended up on his  Aquavitae Facebook site  IMG_2291https://www.facebook.com/aquavitae.tasting.1 or his twitter site  https://twitter.com/aquavitaetaste 

He cracks me up! We had such a great time as a family, as we normally do on all our trips, no matter how big or small they are or where in the world these trips take us! As we returned home, tired from all the fun we had, but ready for Christmas to begin, we all agreed that this was a well spent two days. And, even though the boys were sad to leave the snow, the next after getting home, the clouds opened up and gave us a White Christmas Eve and Christmas! And, as I sit sipping my newest favorite drink (the Hot Buttered BSB, that my husband so lovingly figured out how to make for me and when we ran out of BSB, headed to our nearest store carrying Heritage’s BSB and bought THE VERY LAST BOTTLE!!!) I am reminded at how very blessed we are. Thank-you for allowing me to share with you!

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If you get the chance, please try to get a trip in to Suncadia and Roslyn. Make sure to head over to the Heritage Distillery for a one-of-a-kind experience! And may your Winter Holidays bring you the joy of being with your family, love for all you do, and always, a little adventure! Join me again soon, as you never know what or where the Whiskey Lovers Wife will travel to or review next! Life is a journey, not a destination, so embrace it!

***The Whiskey Lovers Wife does not receive any contributions or commissions for any of the products or places she reviews. In fact, she is pretty sure they are pretty unaware of the blogs that are written! But if any of the reviews, stories, or words that are written helps any other families out there, because you really can find a lot of fun adventures with your family while still allowing your husbands passion for whiskey to be pursued, well then, she is one happy Whiskey Lovers Wife! Sláinte!***

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Adventures in Scotland- Day ONE

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At SEA-TAC airport, waiting our first flight to Philadelphia before our final destination to Glasgow, Scotland!

OH MY GOODNESS! What an amazing summer it has been so far, and it is only the beginning of August! Are you prepared for the Whiskey Lover’s Wife Blog to explode? Because now that we are done traveling (somewhat) until after school starts, I am prepared to flood you with “Adventures in Scotland” as well as adventures in Albuquerque, NM, Las Vegas, NV, and several amazing places in our beautiful Washington State! And I’ll be honest, many of these posts will, indeed, include talks about whiskey! But as I have explained in earlier posts, this is a family friendly adventure, and our boys are very interested in the history and science behind all the whiskey going-ons!

So, here we go!

Adventures in Scotland, DAY ONE!

We left on July 4th, out of Sea-Tac (Seattle, WA) airport! I was not too worried about the boys flying…I was more worried about The Whiskey Lover, who really doesn’t like the cramped feeling of flying in coach class! (But hey, flying with a family of four on our budget…yeah, coach class is perfect!) We made it to Philadelphia around 4pm and awaited our final flight to Glasgow, Scotland. You can see by the picture below that yes, there is MUCH “brotherly love” in Philly as I tried to get the boys to behave in the land of Rocky Balboa!

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We then got on the airplane, and off we went! We landed bright and early in the morning on July 5th in Glasgow, Scotland! And do you know what immediately impressed me? How nice everyone was! We went straight away to pick up our rental car and the computers were down. Normally, when I have dealt with customer service here in the States when computers were down, I have had to deal with overwhelmed employees and reassure THEM, even though I was the customer! However, in Scotland, I was impressed with the humor they had and how they completely bent-over backwards to make sure this would not dampen our beginnings of Holiday in Scotland! We soon got into our brand new Volvo V40, and while Josh was a bit nervous to drive (you know, the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car, and they drive on the opposite side of the road than we do!), we were ready to go!

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So, what to do until we could check into our hotel? We checked out Loch Lammond, the largest Loch (lake) in Scotland, located not too far from Glasgow!IMG_0273

Then we thought, “Hey, let’s check out Stirling Castle!”

“Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most historically important sites and was once a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations at the castle.

 

Just walking through Stirling itself was a beautiful adventure, and had we more time, we certainly would have loved to spend more time there! We walked through the cemeteries and took in the sites. And waited to see the Queen!

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The Tower of Bruce, across from Stirling Castle

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We climbed a big hill to see beautiful country side, the Castle, and the cemeteries!

 While waiting for the Queen to leave her luncheon at Stirling Castle, the boys got to meet, and listen to, the Royal Regiment Pipes and Drums, and take a picture with these young men that were there to serve the Queen.  (pay no mind to the clothing my boys are wearing, remember, we hadn’t checked into our hotel yet, and at this moment, we had been awake for 23 hours!)

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Then we saw her!!! Okay, okay, they is a horrible picture! I didn’t take a picture because I was so excited, took a video clip (that wouldn’t upload for WordPress!) and so this is what you get! (Luke took this picture of Queen Elizabeth as she was being driven out!) She had waved to people prior to getting into her car, I couldn’t believe how close we were, and I also couldn’t believe how tiny and cute she it! (You know, if it was President Trump, there is no way we could have been so close!)

After all that excitement, we decided to finally head to our hotel to check in. We stayed at Gleddoch Hotel Spa & Golf , Old Greenock Rd, Langbank, Scotland, PA14 6YE, United Kingdom800-491-6126 (visit their website here to learn more about this fabulous spa and golf resort! www.gleddoch.com) I actually found The Gleddoch on www.hotels.com! And yes, it was VERY VERY affordable! (it was $99 US per night! We were there two nights!)

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Our Room!

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View from the outdoor hot tub (go to the website to see the amazing indoor pool and spa area!)

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The Bar at the hotel where we ate our first completely fabulous Scottish dinner!

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As we walked up to the hotel, this is how we were greeted! It was beyond exciting and amazing to have a bagpiper welcome us to the hotel! We knew we were truly in Scotland! (We later found out that this particular hotel was booked daily for weddings and was one of the most popular wedding venues in the Glasgow areas…we saw weddings each day we were there!)

Our first official “real meal” in Scotland (okay, we ate at a McDonalds near Loch Lommond earlier that day, but can I really count that???!!!) was here at the Gleddoch in the bar. It was classy, cheaply priced, and ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Luke and I both got the Fish and chips and I was delighted to find out that the fish they used was called Heke and was caught fresh daily in the river below! SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!

We finally went to bed, already filled with so much love for Scotland after not even 24 hours there! We were ready to see what Day 2 would bring us! Come back tomorrow evening for “Adventures in Scotland-Day 2!”

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Running and Whiskey Weekend Warriors

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Once upon a time (let’s say it was 5 years ago), there was this beautiful Queen, (let’s call her Stacie), who one day was angry with her husband (let’s just, for the sake of this story, call him Josh!) so she went outside for a run. This beautiful, amazing Queen actually wasn’t much of a runner, even though she was a PE teacher, (yeah, yeah, I KNOW!!!), but after running her angry off, which really only took about two miles or so, she realized, “Huh, that was actually not so bad!” And thus, this mild like for running began.

Fast forward two years (that would be THREE years ago, if you want to keep track!), and the totally motivated mommy, wife, QUEEN learned about a cool sounding race in Seattle called the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Run. And truly, if you really want to know the truth, it was the Goodie Bag of an awesome looking sweatshirt and tons of chocolate fondue that really enticed the Queen! But sadly, that year she was already committed to something else on the same date as the run. The next year, same thing! This run was still calling to her…so in October 2016, the super smart and ever-so-budget savvy Queen signed up for this Hot Chocolate 5k/15k race, knowing that there would be nothing on the calendar yet for March 5, 2017 AND hey, it was a discounted price since she was signing up for the early bird special! So…what does that have to do with The Whiskey Lovers Wife???? Well, keep your Nike’s on, we are getting there!

So, with the run approaching, this thoughtful Queen decided it would be a marvelous idea to invite her family (the King and her two Prince Charming sons!) to join her on a weekend adventure to Seattle. Also, the two young Princes both have birthdays in March, so it would be a great way to spend some family time and do an early mini-celebration. PLUS, the King really wanted to go to the Copperworks Distillery, since the last time the King and Queen went on a distillery tour, we (I mean them, the King and Queen), couldn’t quite figure out what the GPS was trying to navigate so they gave up and headed to Woodinville! (After visiting Westland Distillery, Letterpress Distillery, and 2-Bar in downtown Seattle!)

The weather in Seattle was perfect for our quest. The rain held out, it wasn’t too cold, and there was plenty to see and do for the two Prince Charming’s, like ride the monorail, check out Pike’s Place Market, get grossed out by the gum wall, and eat at Ivarsgumwallpikesplace

The King was beyond over-joyed to find the CopperWorks Distillery. To read his review and experience on CopperWorks, please check out his blog today at The Whiskey Lover! copperworksIt is really an enjoyable piece to read, chock full of a thorough description of his tasting and thoughts. And THAT, my darling readers, is how whiskey is relevant to a weekend of running! But wait! I’m not down with the story yet! You see, while the Queen (or, yep, you’ve guessed it, ME, the WHISKEY LOVER’S WIFE!) was really gearing up to run in the Hot Chocolate race, there was always the thought of whiskey and family time! If you can kill two birds with one stone, why wouldn’t you? (seriously, I wish there were a different idiom I could use. I feel REALLY bad for thinking about killing birds…unless they are crows, because they creep me out.)

The Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Run was a lot of fun, and I felt pretty good about my time. Despite being sick with a head cold and having had a pulled calve muscle the past week, I ran the 5k in 39.12 minutes.

Just over 12 minutes a mile, especially when I didn’t have the forethought to train for hills or inclines…sure, I’ll take it! I’d have to say, all in all, we had a pretty great weekend. And now my hubby has some  CopperWorks single malt whiskey to sip on, I have a kick-a…um, butt new sweatshirt that proves I ran today, AND the boys got tons of candy when boarding the monorail for the return trip to the Seattle Center and TONS of new memories were made! And isn’t that what it’s all about?!

***Side note, the Queen was really looking forward to going up into the Ivory Tower (The Space Needle) as she had promised the Prince Charming’s they would embark upon that landmark this time in the land of Seattle. However, the youngest dear Prince succumbed to his fear of heights and dare I say, FREAKED OUT, so with the great motto of “all for one and one for all”, this entire royal family opted to move past it. Maybe next time…

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Happy Life, Happy…

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How do you finish the above? I am sure you have heard it as Happy Life, Happy Wife, right??? Well, today I would like to talk about happiness. What is it that makes us happy? As a Whiskey Lovers Wife, I can tell you that it is not the actual WHISKEY that makes my husband happy (although it certainly does help!) For him, it is all that goes into the making, tasting, and drinking of the whiskey. I have learned it is quite complicated to explain why this makes him so happy, but it does.

Now, here is where I get to tell you that when my husband is happy, I AM HAPPY. But, I am pretty positive that he would say that when I am happy, HE IS HAPPY. Marriage- it’s a giving and sharing and giving back. I might venture out to say that since my husband has become a WHISKEY LOVER, it has strengthened our marriage!

I explained in my first post that I am truly a wine girl. I love wine. However, I have started to really appreciate tasting whiskey. Why? Because it is something I have learned while spending time with my husband. Because I already have knowledge of how different alcohols are made/produced (once upon a time, I was the valedictorian of my Seattle Bartending Academy class of a long time ago and bar tended for a short time in college, but to hear the rest of this story, you’d have to have drinks with us first!), therefore able to have a better understanding of terms my husband talks about, thus creating more avenues of conversations for us. As a married couple who both work full time in education, have two kids, and very busy lives, sometimes it’s hard to just find the time to sit and enjoy a quiet conversation with one another. Whiskey, though, as provided this.whiskey

As a couple, we have gone to distilleries together, we have done a little weekend vacation where the kids stayed with the grandparents while we enjoyed a couple days exploring and learning about new distilleries and types of whiskeys. And as a family, we have a few more day trips around our beautiful state and now this summer we will take a family trip to Scotland! So you see, whiskey really is a tool that is creating memorable experiences for our whole family.  (Watch for a blog in two weeks that discusses smart parenting practices to teach and demonstrate responsible alcohol consumption and use. I will be sharing exactly what are boys perspective is on all this.) 

My husband is happy. He has found a hobby he is passionate about. And more than that, it is something he feels capable about, knowledgeable, and able to share with others. And that is important. In the past, he picked up beer brewing and wood-crafting as hobbies, and while he did well, (and we acquired lots of equipment so he can always go back to those things, and at times he tinkers with them still. It’s good to know how to do a variety of things!), the fact of the matter is, he was missing something. I think it was the feeling of being able to involve others. I never helped him make beer, and my role with wood-working was to pretty it up after something was created. But it wasn’t done TOGETHER. sunshinewhiskeyHe needed me to really know the details about HIM. (To read about that, please go here!) With whiskey, my husband is able to share himself- his excitement, passion, know-how- with me and create opportunities for closeness.

Happy Life, Happy. Period. 

To learn more about building strong marriages, check out StacieStoneyCoaching.com. No, whiskey drinking will not be encouraged, but learning what your are passionate about and how to work together as a team and learn from one another will be the focus! After all, that is where The Whiskey Lovers Wife really is coming from!