Yes, Heavy Metal Band GWAR has a Rye Whiskey and It’s Good

Once I was within the first half of my twenties I lived in Richmond, Virginia, the place I used to be ending faculty at Virginia Commonwealth College (VCU) and cooking on the road at The Village Cafe. I’ve by no means recognized one other place like The Village. The cubicles had been full of tattoo artists, professors, hustlers—it was a Lou Reed tune come to life within the South.

It’s scorching in Richmond, and The Village was aggressively air conditioned. Pitchers of iced espresso had been low-cost, and Dika Newlin, one of many final dwelling college students of composer Arnold Schoenberg, would are available in and drink a Stinger subsequent to Blind John (three eggs mushy scrambled with additional cheddar, double bacon and rye toast).

I cooked French toast for Jello Biafra of the Useless Kennedys there. Most of the time, somebody linked to the heavy metallic band GWAR was round. Hillary (one of the best supervisor I ever had) was engaged to the tour supervisor, I believe, and the band’s singer Slymenstra Hymen (AKA Danielle Stampe) was a great buddy of hers.

GWAR was, on the time, inescapable. I used to be extra of a Kepone man, myself, which was GWAR adjoining, nearer to indie rock and punk than GWAR. GWAR was excessive. A GWAR present is sort of a heavy metallic wrestling match. Actual Grand Guignol fantasmagoria with double kick drums, stag horns, huge prosthetic phalli and fountains of pretend blood soaking the group. GWAR took the tongue in cheek Thanatos pushed performances of bands like Iron Maiden all the way in which to the sting. At GWAR exhibits, members of the viewers are fed into a huge meat grinder arrange in entrance of the drum risers. (I’ve at all times puzzled if there’s a inexperienced room down there—after you’re lowered by the molded foam tooth of the grinder are you greeted with a PBR and a few merch?)

Through the twenty years I spent up in New York earlier than shifting again to Virginia, GWAR doesn’t appear to have misplaced any momentum. There’s GWARBar in Richmond, which serves half-pound burgers “freshly floor within the GWAR meat grinder” and beer-battered seitan nuggets referred to as “Seitan’s Balls.” You may “convey peace to your inside scumdog” with GWAR’s Bud of the Gods CBD merchandise. Nonetheless, it’s onerous to think about a crossover with the extra staid world of craft distilling, and I used to be shocked and excited to be taught that Catoctin Creek distillery in Loudoun County, Virginia, was working with the band to create Ragnarök Rye ($99). The second batch of the 92-proof spirit was simply launched.

How does that partnership work precisely? Based on the press supplies, the distillery first “carried out experiments on growing older the blood of GWAR” utilizing barrels charred by a comet. The white canine, or nevertheless one would precisely describe the ensuing distillate, was diluted with melted Antarctic ice, and GWAR “hurled the whiskey barrels into the orbit of the moon,” the place they spun by “the deathly coldness of house and the life-giving warmth of the solar.”

Appears completely legit. The result’s pleasantly oaky, with large rye toast, spice and orange oil flavors on the palate. There’s a sweetness tying the entire profile collectively that’s most likely due to the sugar maple wooden staves within the barrel it was aged in slightly than the intergalactic blood, however who is aware of. Every bottle is sealed with a topper created from “uncommon metallic ore sourced from the fillings of trolls” and solid within the likenesses of every of the members of GWAR: Blóthar the Berserker; Balsac the Jaws of Loss of life; Jizmak da Gusha; Beefcake the Mighty; and Pustulus Maximus.


Let me clarify a bit extra about GWAR’s shtick. As soon as upon a time, in keeping with band mythology, the GWAR members fought as a part of a troop of intergalactic warriors referred to as the Scumdogs of the Universe, however they had been banished to Earth for disloyalty.

If I’ve acquired the story straight, they worn out all life and managed to begin it another time. Naturally, they then determined that one of the simplest ways ahead was to faux that they had been carrying costumes and that the “band” had originated, not within the far reaches of outer house, however within the punk rock DIY tradition of the Eighties.

Or perhaps they had been a bunch of artwork faculty youngsters that discovered that their love of representational artwork, wrestling, comedian books and horror motion pictures had no snug place within the abstractionist minded studios of VCU.

However I’m splitting hairs right here.

In 1984, Hunter Jackson was making a low-budget house pirate film referred to as “Scumdogs of the Universe.” His motto was, “Don’t speak about it. Do it.” The band, then generally known as Loss of life Piggy, borrowed some costumes (a mixture of futuristic and horror) from the film, and all the pieces fell into place.

Michael Bishop, an early member of GWAR who returned to the band to tackle the function of Blóthar and sing lead vocals in 2014 after the dying of founding vocalist Dave Brockie, informed me: “It got here by punk rock, and the thought of creating fanzines, and making bands, and making exhibits, and making your individual leisure, and actually doing with out the concept that what you had been doing was attempting to promote one thing on a bigger scale. You had been simply making it, with out the considered what was going to occur down the road.”

At first, the wedding of Catoctin Creek and GWAR would appear unlikely, even in poor health suggested. GWAR isn’t precisely the form of music you placed on to boost your contemplation of the complexities of aroma rising up out of your tasting glass. Scott Harris, who based Catoctin Creek Distillery along with his spouse Becky in 2009, informed me “I’m type of a Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand type of man.”

The explanation the union is sensible, nevertheless, is as a result of Catoctin Creek comes from a really comparable place. Totally different medium, completely different aesthetic, however Scott and Becky Harris acquired into the distilling with the unique handful of small scale distillers. Again then, it wasn’t clear that distilling was a viable enterprise. It wasn’t even clear that you may get a fireplace marshal to provide you approval for a distillery. In truth, the chances of it working had been maybe longer than the chance {that a} horror movie-inspired heavy metallic band would take off in a university city.


When Catoctin Creek began, people didn’t drink rye whiskey and their clients had been astonished to be taught that somebody may make spirits close by utilizing regionally grown uncooked supplies and promote the product to individuals in their very own group.

“For us, craft meant it was utterly, one hundred pc tied into the native meals motion,” mentioned Scott Harris. From the leap, they needed to be “native whiskey, made by a neighborhood household utilizing native elements and native distributors.” They at all times needed to make it themselves, they usually at all times needed to make it from scratch. At first, they even designed the labels themselves.

GWAR and Catoctin Creek are very a lot merchandise of Virginia. “Each issues” mentioned Bishop, “are a product of our locality.” When GWAR first acquired in contact with the distillery, Scott Harris mentioned he informed them that it sounded enjoyable, however he didn’t know tips on how to even design it. The Scumdog motif, because it had been, is just a little out of their wheelhouse. In fact GWAR has individuals for that, however anyway that’s simply the packaging.

The core values of the unique set of small-scale American distillers centered on craft, regional affect and doing it your self. The exact same values, in different phrases, that gave us GWAR. Don’t speak about it. Do it. way of=rss | Sure, Heavy Steel Band GWAR has a Rye Whiskey and It’s Good


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