On the Road Again
I'm laying low this weekend as I prepare for another early Monday morning flight out of SFO. I'm off to Detroit, a city I've never visited unless you count layovers at the airport and I'm actually really fired up! While others seem to want to get as far away as possible from the former Motor City, I've been curious and fascinated by the happenings there over the past decade. I'm not sure how many people read the news anymore, but Detroit's population has shrunk by over thirty percent over the last twenty years due to the region's struggling economy. The bustling metropolis that was home to over a million people in the late nineties is now well under 700,000 inhabitants and apparently has loads of vacant housing. That may not interest you, but for people like me who are obsessed with New York in the late seventies, or who spent time in Berlin shortly after the millennium, there's a certain entrepreneurial energy that tends to form in money vacuums exactly like Detroit's. Artists can live cheaply, as can young people with new ideas looking to make an impact. As I read in one article recently, "you can come to Detroit and really make a difference."
I've definitely purchased a few American-made items from Detroit out of support for that movement, including a pair of Shinola watches that I adore. I should also mention that the best American horror film of this generation came out of Detroit a few years back, utlizing the vibe and atmosphere of the city to utter perfection:
...and I will definitely have the brilliant Disasterpeace soundtrack on my playlist as we touch down Monday afternoon.
Needless to say, I'm very, very interested in getting my first look at Detroit and forming some of my own opinions, rather than relying on what I read and hear from others. Hopefully I'll have some time to post a few of those thoughts here.
But, I have to say I'm not really going to Detroit just to visit Detroit. I'm going to Detroit because it's just across the river from a distillery I've wanted to visit for some time now: Canada's Hiram Walker facility in Windsor, Ontario, the home of Lot 40 rye whiskey and numerous other delicious Canadian products like Wiser's 18 year, easily my favorite Canadian whisky. I still wholeheartedly believe that Lot 40 is the best rye whiskey for the money on the market today, and has been since it's initial launch a few years back (that is if you actually like to drink whiskey rather than sip a thimble-sized sampling once a month from one of hundreds of various bottles in search of the ultimate complexity). It's so round and supple for a rye, yet it doesn't skimp on real rye flavor and concentration. You can drink it all night long and never get tired of it. It's always showing you something new, and the price today is also much more affordable.
While I've conducted interviews with Hiram Walker's distiller and other experts in the field like Davin de Kergommeaux, easily the spirit's fighting champion, we've never seen a large interest in Canadian whisky here at K&L because I think most people can't shed the stigma of Crown Royal. What I'm hoping to finally do with my first-hand accounts is convince at least a small percentage of our shoppers that Hiram Walker is indeed one of the few overlooked and underrated major whiskey distilleries left. Canadian whisky on the whole is one of the few whisky genres where you can still "make an impact." You can still find a number of the best representatives for cheap! Like Detroit, it's been utterly abandoned by the masses of millennial whiskydom and presents a number of investment opportunities for those looking outside the box.
That interests me. The whole idea of budding cultures and burgeoning movements is far more interesting than the apex of any pop culture phenomenon. Shopping for old rye or Bourbon today is like looking for a penthouse in Manhattan or San Francisco, but I've heard you can buy a house in Detroit for about $10,000. That's what some guys pay for a bottle of Pappy 23!
In any case, I'll be live from Motor City starting Monday.