Archive: August 2015 - Low Brau

Catoctin Creek Distillery

Catoctin Creek Distillery

I have been wanting to stop in Catoctin Creek for a while now, and during our Purcellville brewery run, we made it to the area after the tasting room was closed.  I happened to be out in the area again, this time earlier in the day, so I made sure I stopped in.  My son is about to turn one, and I had heard some dads have gotten their sons a bottle of whiskey to age till they are of age.  I thought this was a nice touch.  I hadn’t had Catoctin Creek, but figured since they are local, it would be pretty cool.  There are more local whiskey distilleries, but they don’t have any whiskey at the moment.

20150806 - Catoctin Creek - Stills

The Stills

Right in the middle of downtown Purcellville, sits the one story building.  It looks like a old shop or warehouse space.  There is plenty of parking on the side, so no worries about street parking.  If for some reason it is packed, there is additional public parking garages in the downtown area.  The building is split, with the distillery on one side, and tasting room/shop on the other.  The bar in the tasting room is set up in the center of the space, so that there is access from three sides.  Along the sides of the space are retail items for sale, everything from glasses and shirts, to local food and whiskey related items.  The wall that is shared has a lot of windows and large doors providing visual access to the distilling process and the beautiful Kothe Stills inside.  During my visit, Becky was busy at her desk while staff was cleaning up.  I had to wait a little bit, as a perspective distillery owner was hitting up the bartender to get some insight or speak with the owners.

20150806 - Catoctin Creek - Bar

The Bar

I’m not a big liquor person, I love my beer.  But taking the time to taste the beer has helped me take the time to investigate tasting other liquids and foods.  So I may not know what to expect, but I do know how to examine what I’m able to sip.  I love the sampling process, so I of course ordered the flight.  I ordered the standard flight, which is a small sampling of all three of their spirits straight.  They have other flights which are cocktails and paired tastings.

20150806 - Catoctin Creek - Flight


I started off with the Mosby’s Spirit, which is their 80 proof white whiskey and named after John Mosby a civil war and local hero.  Some refer to it as a legal moonshine.  It skips the aging process.  My initial sip had a bit of that burn to it.  One of the reasons why I’m not a big liquor fan.  The next sips calmed down somewhat.  I did get a sense of some of the citrus and floral that was promised, but was still sucking wind.  I could see this mixed into a cocktail, rather than drinking it straight.

If you aged the Mosby’s Spirit, the result would be an 80 proof Roundstone Rye.  The aging definitely mellowed down the heat for me.  The wood smoothed it out and added a sweet, caramel edge to it.  I could see myself sipping this on a regular basis.  This is one of those whiskeys that definitely makes me want to sample more.  Since I was there looking for a bottle to age, the bartender was nice enough to let me try the higher proof Roundstone 92, which as the name suggests has 92 proof.  Sometimes upping the alcohol diminishes the flavor (at least it can in the beer world), but the additional alcohol seemed to only intensify the flavors previously noted and increased the smoothness.

The last sample in the flight was Watershed Gin.  I may not be a big liquor drinking, but I know I’m not a fan of the pine needles I have found commonly with Gin.  After a quick sniff, my nose crinkled with that familiar scent, here we go again.  Not sure if they used less juniper, but I got more cinnamon and spice notes than anything else.  Guess this breaks that Gin stereotype for me, and I’ll have to be more open in the future.

At the end, I picked up the Roundstone Rye Cask.  It was recommended to hold the flavor longer, since I’m looking at keeping it in the cellar for the next 20 years.  I didn’t get a sample of this, but it’s supposed to be a kick in the pants, especially at 116 proof.  Guess one of my sons first sips of good whisky will be an eye opener.  A shame that we have to wait this long to enjoy it.

20150806 - Catoctin Creek - Cask

Roundstone Rye Cask

Purcellville continues to have a brewery boom, so if you are in the area sampling beers, definitely stop in at Catoctin Creek.  Since I missed it the first time I came through the area, I was thrilled to be able to make another visit.  It may have been a little lonely, but great none the less.

Visited on 08.06.2015

Catoctin Creek Distillery
120 W Main Street
Purcellville, VA 20132

4Runner – Snorkel

4Runner – Snorkel

After much debate and research, I decided it was time to add a snorkel.  Even when I had a Jeep Wrangler I always wanted a snorkel.  Looking back now, I realize that had I had this piece of equipment on that Jeep, I probably would still have it.  There was an incident in a deep puddle near the beaches of Corolla, North Carolina that changed that stock engine.  It was never the same after that.

Now many people like to debate on whether or not you need a snorkel.  Some feel that you shouldn’t be driving through water that deep.  And a snorkel alone won’t save everything if you do.  This is true, some other steps are needed to cover more of the waterproofing if you plan on river crossing a lot.  However, a snorkel does save you a bit if you tip in too deep by accident.  Take that puddle in Corolla for instance.  It was deeper than the air intake was happy about, and so there was plenty of water in the engine afterwards.  I firmly believe that a snorkel would have saved me that day.  Also, snorkels are not only for water.  Believe it or not, they provide better quality cool air.  The current location of the air intake is in the fender, where dust and water can get into, but heat and minimal air circulation are prevalent as well.  Having a snorkel allows for a cooler, cleaner air to be introduced into your engine.  Depending on the head you use (I have picked up the Ram Air head for now) it also forces more air in.  There are many who have documented an increase in gas mileage after they added their snorkel.  Anyway, some food for thought.

One big thing about snorkels is that they are a bit of a pricey mod.  The second issue for my 4Runner in particular is that there is no direct model made for it anymore.  There was a Safari Snorkel, but that was discontinued.  The ARB one that a lot of guys are installing, is actually a retrofitted Tacoma version.  Luckily I was able to find on the forums a thread that showed the installation of a Hilux 167 Snorkel that works for 3rd Generation 4Runners.  To top it off, you could get it on Amazon for around $130.00.  Pretty good compared to a lot of those other name brand snorkels.  This snorkel actually reminded me a lot of the Safari one in the look and not requiring a bunch of retrofitting to make work (supposedly made harder if you want to keep your automatic stock radio antenna).

The snorkel was delivered faster than expected and noted in the transaction.  Not sure who packaged it, but it was a box completely covered in packaging tape.  The protection inside was a bunch of styrofoam sheets broken up and placed inside.  So of course I quickly made sure I had all the parts and pieces and there was no damage.  Time to get to work.

20150718 - Snorkel Packaging


For easier access, it was recommended to take off the tire.  This allows access from the wheel well.  I second this action, as it’s going to be tight as it is, and coming from below is a definitely.  Removal of the fender may have helped this process, but I wanted to make sure everything lined up.  I added the flimsy template and cut my big hole.  I used a 3 1/2″ hole saw and then I believe a 3/8″ bit for the main holes.  This template isn’t the greatest, and it doesn’t align exactly.  I lined mine up with the top, and looking at it now, the alignment with the edge of the door may have been the primary alignment.  In addition, once you cut the main hole, it is best to locate your drill holes on the template yourself.  The ones provided don’t line up for some reason.  Many suggested this is the scariest part.  Yeah, cutting a big hole in the side of your truck is scary and it will never be the same.  But it is fixable, so other than it being super hot, I wasn’t sweating the cuts.

20150718 - Snorkel - Template

Template alignment and cutting holes.

The thread on the forum recommended to buy some screws for the windshield attachment and to use black chalk.  After I drilled my holes, I cleaned up the edges with a dremel and then added some clear coat to eliminate any rust.  Honestly, I never figured out where he put the chalk, but I used it in the holes as well and along the edges to provide some protection to rubbing for the snorkel, and additional protection against rust.  I’ll keep an eye on it to make sure.  The rubber hose that attaches to the hard plastic is a pain in the butt.  It was really hard to stretch over the air box connection and even tougher inside the fender for the snorkel.  I’ve also read that this hose compresses during high RPMs, so I plan on making an adjustment there.  The bracket for the “A” pillar came with rivets.  Apparently the thread writer than know that, hence the buying of extra screws.  I picked up a cheap rivet gun ahead of time and popped those in there.  The screws that attached the bracket to the snorkel were definitely cheap as one replier mentioned and are already rusting a bit.  I wanted to pick up some stainless replacements, but metric bolts are not my nearby Home Depot’s forte.  I added a bit of sticky weather stripping to the front, as there is a bit of a gap (seems the Hilux and 4Runner don’t have all the same curves).  Once installed, I went ahead and closed everything back up.

20150718 - Snorkel - Before


20150718 - Snorkel - After


20150718 - Snorkel - After Side

After – Side View

I’m pretty happy with the overall construction of the snorkel.  I haven’t been able to test it out yet, or driven it long enough to really report any gains.  I’m just happy that it is there. The 4Runner has a high air intake as it is, but this is just additional insurance for that engine to keep running.