>You’ve got to suffer for your art :-)

>So there I was at 4:00 on a Monday at the Rogue Distillery in Newport, notebook and camera in hand, ready to take my tour. I had already toured the Rogue Brewery, learning all about barley and hops and such. Walking around with two tourists and the fresh-faced salesman–who was a little nervous about talking to the “media”–I got the general idea of how they make their beers and ales. Did you know the brown glass bottles filter light while the green bottles of, say Heineken, don’t, so the beer keeps changing in the bottle? Did you know Rogue grows some of its own hops in the Willamette Valley? Tour and learn.

What I really didn’t know was that Rogue was also making whiskey and gin just up the road and the next tour started in an hour. Hot dog, two stories for the price of one.

It was a small building which didn’t appear to yield much of a tour, and indeed, the only walking I did was to and from the bar, where stools perched upside down, their chrome legs in the air because they weren’t open for eating and drinking that day. I walked in, gagged at the strong odor, observed the copper and chrome distilling tanks and a few wooden barrels, then bellied up to the bar. As the handsome boozemaker/tour guide talked about the ingredients, the multiple distillings, the bottling, etc., he casually filled three tiny plastic shot glasses and nudged them toward me.

I have tasted plenty of the delicious Rogue ales and beers over the years and I’m not much of a drinker, so I didn’t mind not being offered any tastes at the brewery, but this was research. Arriba bajo, as the Spanish say. Bottoms up.

I had watched my husband and his wine-loving friends sniff, sip, swish and swallow, commenting on the “hint” of oak, the “note” of apple. But I’d never seen a booze-tasting. I sniffed the whiskey. Nice. Sipped. Yum. Swallowed. Wow. Did my eyes bulge out a little? Then came the gin, two kinds, white and pink. Yes, yes, I did taste the citrus, the fruity flavorings. Very nice.

By the third taste, I was starting to feel a little like Lucille Ball on that classic “I Love Lucy” episode where she gets drunk doing a cough medicine commercial. Story, shmory. I was charmed by the handsome man and the multi-colored bottles glowing in the window against the backdrop of the Yaquina Bridge.

By the time I came out, hastily making a few notes in the car, my face felt numb, and I kept laughing for no particular reason. My kind of research. You’ve got to experience it to write about it, don’t you? However, the deadline looms near. Luckily, I got some good photos, and Rogue offers lots of info online. I guess I’d better read it again, with nothing stronger than tea to drink.

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