It is December 30th, 2018 and Tim and I are both fighting back colds. But my teary eyes aren’t the febrile or cold-related kind. They are those that come from months of getting to know amazing individuals who pour moonshine and whiskey while they deliver smiles and memories, and now having to say goodbye. Because tonight, was the last night. But I guess we should rewind a bit first, yeah?
For those of you that don’t follow me on Instagram, I have been doing Whiskey History and Moonshine Tasting Tours in the Smokies. During this time, I have gotten to know hundreds of Smoky Mountain visitors who take my tour. I’ve made friends and laughed with amazing people during that time. But the true rock stars are the tastemakers and bartenders I have had the pleasure of getting to know. We started as strangers, became acquaintances, and soon were friends.
So, where is this coming from? Bare with me.
Tim and I will be moving to Chicago soon. More on that later…But let’s leave that aside for now, yeah?
When Tim and I moved to the Smokies, we didn’t know anyone in town. I took a job that moved us from Florida to Tennessee, and we didn’t know a soul in the area. Aside from my coworkers, Tim and I really didn’t have any friends.
Fast forward a year later, I started doing the Moonshine tours. Each night I had a tour booked, I saw some of the same faces. And while I did try to say goodbye to all of them, I wanted, in true blogger fashion, thank them on the internets. #PicsOrItDidntHappen
Thank You To So Many People…
First and foremost, my tours wouldn’t have been possible without DK believing in them as much as I did. You were open to ideas, feedback, and never second-guessed the magical moments that the tours were creating.
Among the distillery staff is a bearded podcaster who also made the tours possible. Thank you for always bearing with me when we had last minute bookings, emails went to spam, and attempting to get a group of 22 Germans on one bar during a busy night of tasting.
While doing the moonshine tours, there is only one man I saw more than my husband on a day to day basis. To the Eggnog moonshine creating, hat wearing, no-nonsense taking tour guide, thank you for always smiling when I walked through the door be it with 2 or 20 guests in tow. Thank you for never making me feel like a bother or inconvenience, though I know sometimes my groups were distracted or rowdy. Thank you for answering all the questions, no matter how silly (like why there is a microwave in the bottling room) or how advanced (like that time we had a chemical engineer in the group).
When the Eggnog moonshine creator wasn’t there, the task of tour guide fell to the Historian by Trade and Beer Connoisseur by Choice. Thank you for all the nuggets of local history I was able to use, for patiently taking cocktail orders at the bar, and for knowing exactly what to make when I was over drinking all of the seasonal choices. #CheerShine and #PurpleRain for life.
To the cocktail bar superheroes (those who play mixologist and always made new drinks, those with colorful hair, and the gentlemen of the back patio), you heard my bloody mary story more times than any one person should. Thank you for always making suggestions and drinks that were a hit!
Tastemakers turned friends… where do I even start? Whether you poured for those non-green wristbands once or more times than we can count, you were always a favorite. From Prince and Joe Dirt’s Love Child to A-Aron, from a certain Side Show Bob Lookalike with Work Wife Drama (Looking at you Sugar Sweet and Sassy Okay Annie) to a NoLa Transplant, from the Seasonally Named Sweetheart to the Taylor Swift King of the Hill Joker, and from the Bucket Hat Badass to all the other tastemakers who I can’t wittily think of a way to code name you, thank you. You’ve all become friends and highlights of our time here in the Smokies.
And you behind the still house door…. you team of whiskey makers, shine bottlers, and back of house badasses (Space Foxes and MODs included), don’t think I forgot you! You are the silent experience makers who might not have really interacted with me or my guests, but know that I am still thankful for the little things you did. Like the time one of you let me know there were Roaming Man bottles for sale at the Whiskey Experience… or the many times the bottling team showed my guests what was on the line that night and how the old school label machine worked… or the times you worked around us in the stillhouse.
To everyone at the Sugarlands Team, I can’t thank you enough for how warm you have been. You’ve turned into my own little Cheers and I am beyond sad to leave all of you. But if any of you are ever in Chicago, I expect a phone call because beers are on me!
Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you got
Taking a break from all your worries
It sure would help a lot
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
The troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name