New short documentary, "I, Whiskey," is captivating, thirst-provoking

10/12/2016 04:36 pm ET Updated Oct 12, 2016

A couple of years ago, as my family and I wound our way through Virginia’s wine country, I discovered whiskey.

I knew a little about whiskey, of course. I bought whiskey and drank whiskey. I shared whiskey with friends.

At the Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia, I found whiskey. In a purely existential sense, I guess, whiskey found me.

Tucked away in the cascading hills and deep forests that comprise the eastern edge of Shenandoah National Park, the Copper Fox is a lonely sentinel in a cluster of vineyards and tasting rooms.

Yet it’s where I learned to appreciate the distillation process and the distillers. The grains, the mash and the barrels.

“Whiskey is science, chance, time, risk, ingenuity, love, intensity — it’s all in a glass when it’s done right,” says Rick Wasmund, owner of Copper Fox Distillery.

Smooth and complex. A little sweet, a bit earthy.

Wasmund is featured in “I, Whiskey: The Human Spirit,” a documentary-style short film released Oct. 12 that, according to press materials, “tells the story of how the freedom to innovate, enjoy, and profit brings people together.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute and Passing Lane Films produced the film, which touches on the distillers, farmers, mixologists, restaurant owners and whiskey enthusiasts who comprise the soul of the spirit.

Slick and well-done, the captivating and thirst-provoking film is entertaining and inspirational, an ode to America’s indomitable spirit and taste for ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

Craft distilleries throughout the country have brought people closer to the art and science of making spirits. To ideas of innovation and creation. Determination and perseverance. Freedom and independence.

“’I, Whiskey’” is about freedom, the freedom to connect and create,” says Executive Producer Richard Morrison. “It tells the story of entrepreneurs, scientists and bootleggers and celebrates their rebel spirit and colorful history. The Competitive Enterprise Institute loves to show how commerce helps build a flourishing civil society, and telling the story of whiskey is a fun, approachable way to do that.”

“My name’s on the bottle, but I’m not the inventor of whiskey,” says Wasmund, who employs a unique aging process using applewood. This distillery malts its own barley — about 150 tons each year. A local farmer supplies the grain.

The film includes interviews and scenes from Catoctin Creek Distillery and Jack Rose Dining Saloon, as well as Copper Fox.

“I’m just a little guy trying to bring something new to the world that people will enjoy,” Wasmund says. “It takes a lot of people and systems to make this work — bottle makers, the label people, the whole sales process, the retail operators — I love the connections that I have all over the country and the world.”

“I, Whiskey” is the second film in CEI's “I, Pencil” film series.

CEI is a nonprofit public policy organization, whose mission is promoting “freedom and fairness by making good policy good politics.”

To find out more, visit iwhiskeymovie.org

Visit #iwhiskey and follow on Twitter, @iwhiskeyspirit.

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