Pig & Whiskey 2014

The last time my wife, Maureen, and I attended Pig & Whiskey in Ferndale was two years ago, so we were a bit overdue for a return. This festival is the highlight of July in Michigan, as far as I'm concerned, and namely because it involves two of my favorite things: whiskey and pork products. The temp was a fairly comfortable 80 degrees, a nice breeze blowing, and the sun was shining. Certainly a perfect day to partake in some barbecue and booze.

Unfortunately, the ticket prices and our budgeting didn't line up exactly, but we still got to sample some damn fine stuff. Among the highlights were Woodward Avenue Brewery's candied bacon, Vinsetta Garage's Macon Bacon slider with a cup of bannoffee pudding (a small meal that I happily recalled from 2012), Ole Smokey Moonshine, and The Smoke Ring BBQ food truck served up a truly marvelous pork belly sandwich - absolute dynamite!

I'd never had moonshine before, but they had multiple flavors on display, in addition to the straight-up 'shine. The menu listed blackberry, which caught my eye immediately, but they were out, so the wife and I split a strawberry and, later, apple pie moonshine. Unfortunately, Maureen liked them so much that I didn't get much more than a taste of either. Still, the sample was more than enough to sway me and we'll be on the lookout for this during our next shopping trip. Dangerous stuff, that moonshine, but so damn delectable!

I was really surprised by the Black Velvet Reserve. This was my first time trying the brand at all, and I found the drink to be incredibly smooth and mellow, with a solid bit of oak, but not overpowering or unpleasant. Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, and Woodward Reserve were on hand, as was Red Stag, and a few others, but I wanted to focus on some new brands I hadn't had the pleasure of tasting previously. I did have a SoCo cocktail that was made with a jalapeno syrup that was tasty, but didn't quite have the heat I was looking for.

The festival had expanded to take over a couple additional blocks then the last time we'd attended. I'd expected more distilleries to be on display given the expanded territory allotted to the festival, but maybe the bigger turnouts were on Friday and Saturday and we just missed them. There was also a large array of music acts scheduled, and I can't recall what the line-up, if any, was like during our previous attendance. We weren't too focused on the musicians, though I managed to catch a few snippets of The DeCamp Sisters, and it sounded like they've got some nice vocals. I may need to check out their music a bit more later on.

One great thing about the additional space for all the revelry was  that it provided lots of extra room to maneuver, and lots of tables and seating made for easy access comfort, something we struggled with a few years ago. If I had one complaint it would be directed toward the almost incessant badgery of Uber salesfolk; we managed to get stopped three times by three different salesman trying to sell us on the app with reward incentives, but that's not what we were there for. Even though we promised to find an alternate route through the lot, just to avoid the Uber tent, we somehow always managed to find ourselves passing by it anyway and eventually just kept on walking while they tried to flag us down. I hate to be rude, and I know sales is a tough business, but after a certain point there's little other recourse. To top it off, we had even less need for Uber than usual thanks to the accompaniment of our sister-in-law, fellow pork enthusiast, and designated driver (thanks again Jenn!!!).

Regardless, it was a lot of fun and I'm already looking forward to next year's festival. In my opinion, this is, hands down, one of the best events to occur in Michigan (maybe because I'm not much of a car guy and the annual international auto show does little for me? Either way, it seems really hard to go wrong with Pig & Whiskey, far as I'm concerned).

Here's some pics I took on my iPhone, so excuse the quality and click to embiggen:





Adding the finishing touch to the paella.












Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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