Wow, time flies by when you’re busting your ass. I can’t believe that it’s Dec 31st, 2015. What a great way to cap off a great year with our Halfway to 630 Day party last night that was a rousing success! Thank you again to all who came out and made it so much fun. And I can’t say enough how grateful I am for all of your continued support and enthusiasm for my spirits. I literally couldn’t be doing this without it. And 2015 was the year that I was able to fully devote myself to my dream job, so for that alone it was a memorable year!
12 months ago, I set out a list of goals for the year, I’ve copied it here because I believe in holding yourself accountable. As you can see, there were many places I fell short. That’s great, I know I still have much improvement to make and new victories to strive towards. And I like to bite off more than I can chew.
My #1 Goal:
-Be the best Father & Husband I can be (I’d like to say YES to this one!)
-Introduce 4 new spirits (YES)
-Double distillery output (YES)
-Have 60+ barrels aging on Dec 31st, 2015 (YES!)
-Barrel Age 12 cocktails (NO)
-Throw a great 3rd Annual 630 Day Party! (YES!)
-Obtain out of state distributor (n/a)
-Add Event Calendar to website (YES)
-Blog & Social Media Current (YES)
-Launch cocktail videos (NO)
-Have an intern (YES)
-Successful Mardi Gras (YES)
-Win Spirit Medal (HELL YES!!!)
-Sell First Private Single Barrel (YES!!)
-Frame Posters (YES)
-Read 12 books (YES)
-Cook 12 new (to me) dishes (NO, 7)
-Make 24 new (to me) cocktails (YES, new favorite: Big Jake/Drambuie)
-Go to 6 new (to me) STL restaurants (YES)
-Run 100 miles (NO)
-Bike 600 miles (or MR340) (NO)
-Bike Katy Trail (NO)
-Lose 10 pounds (start 248) (YES, 238lbs)
-Celebrate Birthdays & Anniversaries (YES)
-Complete 4 Short Stories (NO)
-Complete 4 Poems (NO)
-Finish children’s book (NO)
-Catch up w/Journal before March 1st (NO)
-Frame Life Goals (NO)
-Go Diving Twice (NO)
-Go Camping (NO)
-Go Hiking (YES)
-Go Rafting/kayaking (NO)
-Taxes done before February (YES)
-Visit Chicago (YES)
-Visit Indy (YES)
-Visit Louisville (YES)
-Visit a new city (NO)
-Leave the Country (NO)
-Grow successful garden (kinda)
-Increase Flexibility (YES)
-Finish Stained Glass for (gift) (NO)
-Finish Climbing Picture (NO)
-Finish Guest Room (paint/hang pictures) (NO)
-Complete An Athletic Event (NO)
-No Procrastination, FWYS GOADI (NO)
-Support a Charity (YES)
-Fully Organize basement (YES)
Clearly, my focus was on my growing family and the distillery this year, that was my life. I had little time for anything else, particularly my other hobbies. That probably won’t change in 2016, but that’s fine, because in 2015 I got to work my dream job and I grew my company and made great spirits. Best of all, I can proudly say that both my family and my company are in better shape than they were Jan 1st, 2015! So cheers to a record setting year and for bettering it next year!!
Throughout the year, we make a big deal about our spirits and drinking in general. And it’s all fun and good-natured and I do really believe that a great spirit or cocktail really does bolster the good times shared with family and friends. But it’s obvious that the shared time with dear friends and loving family that is most important, whether you’re drinking together or not.
And I can not be more thankful for my loving wife, for supporting me and this wonderful adventure and being an incredible mother to our kiddos; for my boys, who make all this nonstop hard work seem worthwhile, they are the absolute best things in my life; for Big Jake, for making all of my clothes white and always being happy to see me; for the rest of my family on all sides, who are just a pleasure to be around; and for my dear friends, who are really more like extended family. My life wouldn’t be the same without every single one of you and I’m incredibly grateful to have you in my life. You people are the reason I’m trying so hard to make spirits that are worthy of celebrating with you.
And also, an extra special Thank You to all the fans and supporters of my humble little distillery. It’s directly because of your encouragement and support that I am able to continue to live my dream. I’m thankful for the opportunity you give me to continue to hone my craft and I hope that the results continue to make it worth your while.
And no matter what anyone says, I’m thankful to be an American and live here in this great country. While not perfect, it’s got many more positives than you’d know simply by watching the news. I’m thankful that so many people are working to make it a better place.
I’m incredibly blessed and on NO day does it go unappreciated. I hope that you too can find many things to be thankful for in your life. So, Cheers! And here’s to perspective and the important things in life.
We had a great time at Whiskey In The Winter, which has definitely proven itself as one of the premier spirit events in the region! Where else can you sample over 300 spirits from great distilleries around the world (and some of us from right down the street!) in one place?
Another amazing Whiskey In The Winter has come and gone. We want to thank everyone who came to see us, especially all those who tried our spirits and then dragged friends back! We saw a lot of old friends and even made some new ones. We are truly humbled by your overwhelming support because without you we do not exist. Thank you. Until next time, we’ll keep making the best spirits we can!
To us, it is a great symbol of hope and potential, the audacity of the settlers. It beckons to the dreamer inside all of us who imagines carving out a life amidst this crazy world. And while the Western frontier is more corporate sprawl than bison range these days, it’s still a great big world in which to stake out your place.
The Arch was built to commemorate those brave men and women who set out to create their American Dream. And that’s exactly how I view this distillery. StilL 630 is MY American Dream. And I can’t think of a more fitting place to make our spirits than in the shadow of this beautiful monument.
And so I raise a glass to the Arch, and hope that it will inspire countless more people to chase their dreams, as it has inspired me. Cheers!
I’m super excited to announce that as I sit here writing this, the first stripping run of the second spirit in our Brewery Collaboration Series is coming off the still!
For this exceptional project, we have partnered with our good friends at Modern Brewery. (With whom we partnered for a barrel-aged version of their Arkham’s Finest (which was sensational!) and the Motion At The Still adventure filmfest we held last Nov)
Because the goal for this project is a release at 630 Day 2016, we decided to go with a summer appropriate beer, to wit, a Biere de Garde – which is basically a strong pale ale. This one has some incredible floral notes and the right amount of body to be delicious now, but traditionally these beers are meant to be cellared before drinking.
As we did with our first collaboration (read HERE), I’m planning on double distilling this beer and aging it in new 15 gallon charred oak barrels to impart the oak flavor and develop some more complexity as a spirit in the time we have available. (as I write, 630 Day is exactly 9 months from tomorrow!) They are also aging a couple hundred gallons of the beer in our used RallyPoint barrels in the classical style of maturing a Biere de Garde before consumption and we will be releasing them together to enjoy the two different expressions of this delicious alcohol.
And so it goes without saying that Modern Brewery will be our official craft beer partner for 630 Day 2016! They’ll be here pouring their barrel-aged Biere de Garde… and probably another of their fantastic beers!
The Classic Cocktail Party continues to grow every year and just get better and better. Where else can you sample ALL the local Missouri craft distilleries in one place?!? And not only do you get to sample their spirits, they also whip up delicious cocktails so you can taste great cocktails that showcase their spirits!
It all happens on Sat Sept 12th in Lafayette Park in Lafayette Square in St. Louis. It’s a classy evening event with two bands this year and a fun, festive atmosphere. From 6-9pm enjoy great spirits and great company as you embark on a tasty tour of Missouri’s finest craft distillers!
What an interesting morning. I love getting into the distillery in the peacefulness of the early morning and it’s always better to have a little bite to eat and some cold brew coffee to jumpstart my ass-kicking for the day.
But at Bread Co. there was a guy with a bicycle that greatly intrigued me. He had a WSU insignia on his bike shirt and a US map on his bike loaded with cross-country-type gear. That’s when I met a kindred soul: Ben Kincaid.
When I came out, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, so I sat down and talked with Ben for awhile, more like assaulted him with questions, and enjoyed one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve ever had.
Having left Portland, OR June 2nd, Ben is currently a mere 4,000 miles into his meandering journey to Portland, ME. Yeah, he’s riding his bike coast-to-coast, Portland-to-Portland, across this great continent. He talked lovingly about the Tetons; Yellowstone was unfortunately plagued with 4th of July traffic; and Missoula, MT is one of his favorite towns. But he kept raving about the Katy Trail (calling it an incredible treasure we have here and he only learned of it in CO) and our great city of St. Louis. As a proud St. Louisan, it was great to hear my city described by such passionate fresh eyes.
His flexibility and openness to whatever the road has in store seem to keep rewarding him and I think that’s the right way to do it. Have a rough plan and then take advantage of whatever unforeseen opportunities present themselves. Like the midnight ramble bike ride he stumbled across and wearily joined in on even though he’d ridden hard that day.
We talked about so much, but the main themes he expressed seemed to be founded upon a boundless love of life and an unquenchable desire for new experiences. He is truly a wanderer at heart. And the unmistakable serendipity of our lives was incredible. He is originally from Wichita, KS, like my mom. Had a bike shirt from there with the WSU logo on it, where my dad played football and met my mother. He loved Missoula, MT and I just happened to be wearing my Moose Drool hat from the Big Sky Brewing Co in Missoula. He is out seizing his life and living his dreams, just like how I envision myself. His days of hopping freight trains were similar in take-away life lessons to mine as a raft guide. An old rider he met, upon Ben’s questioning, shared this nugget of wisdom: “To get to be old and wise, you gotta be young and dumb first”. We learn from our experiences. The more and varied, the greater the potential wisdom gained.
Ben started with $400 and has been “just blown away by the kindest and generosity of humanity”. He’s followed his passions in life and has a fantastic knack of seeing the positive side of everything. He mentioned that some people are amazed he doesn’t carry a gun or weapon for self-defense. He says that he “doesn’t carry a gun, he carries a smile.” And that led into a lengthy treatise on positive vibrations and the universe returning whatever vibrations you put out into it. There are precious few wandering souls in our settled society, far too many of us feel shackled by jobs and responsibilities. And here’s Ben, who’s been invited into countless homes of total strangers showing this rogue wanderer unusual kindness. Or maybe the message of his ride is that he’s revealing a shared, universal human kindness, which is found in all people, not just these great mid-Westerners around here. He claims he’s on his soul-searching journey, but he projects a harmony and comfort with his own self that is magnetic.
He’s only been mugged once, as he slept under a bridge, but it eventually led him to seek help which led him to a group of people he’d never have met if he hadn’t, and they in turn helped redirect his life so that he discovered an unknown, but intense passion for agriculture. He had several stories like this, events that would discourage or destroy others, yet he recalls them as some of the best things that ever happened to him.
For example, he started on this trip before. In fact, he made it 500 miles before a car smashed into him, destroying his bike and breaking his back in two places. (spinal injuries, another shared experience between us). His rehabilitative doctor laughed at him when Ben spoke of his cross-country biking dreams. Now Ben sends him an email every thousand miles in the hopes that it’ll inspire the doctor to give more hope to other patients. Which seems to be the essence of Ben Kincaid. Passionately, intensely, living his life. Trusting in the positive vibrations of the universe and inspiring others as he follows his own path.
Annie P. (recent distillery tourer) happened by and joined in our conversation for a while, which was very nice. Ben explained that he’s planning on riding across europe and asia, from the atlantic to the pacific after he finishes this American Odyssey. And he’s trying to gain followers via Facebook so that hopefully he can get sponsored for the next ride. I wanted to do anything I can for this guy, it’s so inspirational to meet someone so in tune with their life and operating on a high plane. He didn’t seem concerned with material possessions or promotions, he hungers to experience all life has to offer; and I find that very refreshing in our reality-tv, superficial society.
Call him a hippy-soul or eternal optimist, he resonated a genuinely good-feeling. This is the kind of guy I want my sons to dream about being… tackling enormous challenges and embarking on great adventures; all the while learning from others and gathering pearls of wisdom wherever they are to be found. And, personally, I absolutely love meeting people who are actively living their dreams. My life has been enriched by this fateful encounter. And it brings to mind the suspicious events that led to me following along as S/V Pura Vida circumnavigated the globe. Today I met a man in the process of doing the same thing via bicycle.
So cheers to you, Benjamin James Kincaid, on this incredible, life-affirming journey. God Speed, and may the road be ever downhill.
Please check out his Facebook page (Benjamin James Kincaid) and follow along on Travelin’ Ben’s amazing American Odyssey.
If you’re impressed and inspired by his story, please chip in a couple bucks (Travelin’ Ben’s Travelin’ Fund) and help him make necessary bike repairs or grab a bite to eat along the way. Or if you happen across him playing his saxophone on the street, his music is worth stopping to listen.
(UPDATE: Ben just stopped by the distillery and we talked more, what a great guy! I conned him into taking this pic:)
It’s encouraging to know that there are people out there daring great things. Here’s to you, Benjamin James Kincaid, a true Indomitable Spirit.
Talk about an Indomitable Spirit, Tony Rocca, jack of all trades and he of MR340 and Motion-At-The-Still fame; has been at it again. Traipsing across some of the most rugged terrain on the North American continent, he just returned from an incredible white water rafting trip through interior Alaska. Luckily, he had the necessities with him to steel himself against the freezing chill of the glacial meltwater. Check out some of the incredible pics he took.
(Click HERE for full image and others)
And make no mistake, that RallyPoint is floating in 100 year-old glacial ice. Incredible to think about all those years that water has waited to finally be able to melt into our rye whiskey. I could use a glass myself to sit on that riverbank, quietly pondering the massive glacier and ponder all that has happened since that rain fell.
As intrepid adventurers ourselves, we dream of tackling a trip like Tony’s. And so we raise a glass to his Indomitable Spirit. (though my ice is only hours old…) Cheers to you, sir. Thanks for taking us along in spirit!
It’s almost that wonderful time of year again: Fall! And that means it’s time for the Classic Cocktail Party, which officially kicks off the extravaganza of local booze known as the St. Louis Craft Spirits and Cocktails Week!
Check out all the most up-to-date information HERE.
And the whole time during this great celebration of local distillers, you should “Drink Like a Local” and get your passport stamped at all the great local watering holes! So many great places, we had to increase it from just one week to two! Full info here:
First, I want to give a huge Thank You to every single person who came out and made 630 Day 2015 our best yet!! The food from Sugarfire Smokehouse was incredible, and I’ll personally be very disappointed if I can’t get more of that sensational RallyPoint BBQ sauce very soon!
Gran Cru cigars offered premium, hand-rolled cigars rolled with leaves that had absorbed the flavor and aroma of our Soulard Island Rum or RallyPoint Rye Whiskey respectively.
Clementine’s Creamery delighted everyone with their tasty ice cream treats, the particular favorite being their “Old-Fashioned” flavor, which is their ‘Naughty’ ice cream made with RallyPoint!
The beers from Alpha Brewery were a big hit, especially the Imperial Smoked Black Ale (which is a testament to how great that beer is when a big, heavy dark beer was drained in the middle of a hot summer night!).
The release of our second batch of RallyPoint Maple Sunset and first ever batch of Big Jake’s Breakfast Brew went better than we’d hoped! And people we’re loving our Goat’s Milk cocktail… the perfect after dinner drink! Also, if you didn’t get a chance to snag one of our extremely limited edition (we made 25), hand-BRANDED posters, get ’em HERE while they last!
I’ve got to crash, it’s been a month-long sprint to our anniversary party and I feel like I need to go hibernate for a week or two… Cheers to a great 3rd Anniversary Party and here’s to next year! The countdown to 630 Day 2016 begins now…