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A Trip to South Dakota



Last week, embarking on a heartfelt expedition, I ventured to South Dakota to honor my parents and reconnect with my family. The purpose of my trip was to lay my parents to rest in the South Dakota Veterans Cemetery, nestled in the city of Sioux Falls. After my mother's passing in 2020 and my father's in February of this year, their ashes had been peacefully resting at my home since his Memorial Service. Witnessing my father receive full military honors was a truly awe-inspiring moment. I have captured some pictures from this poignant ceremony.



As an avid whiskey enthusiast, I always seek out the opportunity to savor the flavors of locally crafted spirits wherever I travel. South Dakota, renowned for its captivating history and breathtaking landscapes, may not yet be celebrated for its whiskey production, but I knew I would find some gems! While my time in Sioux Falls did not allow for a distillery exploration, I did stumble upon a bottle of Clay Turner 5 Year Old Rye Whiskey. This delightful rye, expertly crafted by Valiant Vineyards Winery and Distillery for Stone Faces Distillery, boasted a pleasant and spicy character. Following the ceremony, my journey led me to Rapid City, South Dakota, where I eagerly anticipated reuniting with friends and family.


After indulging in a delicious dinner at the renowned Longhorn Steakhouse in Rapid City, we embarked on a scenic adventure the following day. Our path took us along the enchanting Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, a 22-mile stretch of road that transported us to a realm of pure magic. From the moment we departed Spearfish, towering limestone cliffs embraced us, their weathered faces a testament to the passage of time. The road itself meandered gracefully, mirroring the course of the sparkling Spearfish Creek, which added to the serene beauty of the canyon.


Our leisurely drive allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the awe-inspiring scenery. The canyon burst with a riot of colors, particularly during this vibrant autumn season when the foliage had transformed into a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows. The majestic spruce and pine trees, cloaked in lush greenery, provided a striking contrast against the clear blue sky.


As we navigated the twists and turns of the byway, we encountered several captivating waterfalls, with Bridal Veil Falls standing as the most renowned. This 60-foot cascade gracefully descended the canyon wall, its misty spray creating a mesmerizing veil-like effect. Further along our journey, we discovered Roughlock Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall that exuded its own enchantment. Along the byway, conveniently placed pullouts allowed us to pause, capturing the breathtaking views with our cameras.



Our next destination was Deadwood, a historic town nestled within the Black Hills. Revered for its illustrious gold rush history, Deadwood seamlessly blends the charm of the Old West with modern attractions. The entire city stands as a National Historic Landmark, preserving 19th-century buildings that now house museums, shops, and restaurants. Visitors can tread in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, try their luck at a casino, or revel in the natural splendor of the surrounding area.


During our time in Deadwood, we made a point to visit the West River Whiskey Co. tasting room. The ambiance exuded warmth and invitation, providing the perfect setting to sample a range of spirits crafted by their partner, Black Fork Farms Distillery, located in Brandt, SD. This farm-to-bottle distillery utilizes Native Corn, imparting a unique flavor profile to their whiskey. The grains are meticulously smoked with apple and cherry wood, further enhancing their character. Their bourbon, double pot distilled and aged for a minimum of 4 years in Missouri Ozark American White Oak barrels with a #3 char, proved to be a standout. Additionally, they offered other enticing varieties, including a 6-year-aged wheated bourbon and a Farmboy Oated whiskey featuring oats as the second most prominent ingredient. My personal favorite was the Cask 120 Bourbon, a high-proof offering straight from the barrel. The whiskey tasting experience at West River Whiskey Co. was truly one-of-a-kind. Their signature whiskey, a harmonious blend of corn, rye, and malted barley, boasted a robust flavor with a subtle hint of sweetness. The rustic charm of the tasting room, coupled with the owners' unwavering passion for their craft, ensured that this visit would forever be etched in my memory.



Before bidding farewell to Rapid City, we made a point to visit the historic Windsor Block, a meticulously restored building dating back to the late 19th century. The architectural splendor of this structure, adorned with intricate brickwork and grand arched windows, was a sight to behold. Today, it houses a variety of businesses, including the Windsor Block Bar.


Stepping into the bar, we were greeted by a harmonious blend of rustic and contemporary design elements. Exposed brick walls and lofty ceilings paid homage to the building's 19th-century origins, while sleek furnishings and ambient lighting added a modern touch. The expansive arched windows not only offered a glimpse of the city outside but also bathed the space in natural light, creating an inviting and warm atmosphere.


The Windsor Block Bar boasted an extensive drink menu, featuring everything from locally crafted beers to exquisite wines and inventive cocktails. I delighted in savoring the "Black is The New Orange" Barrel-Aged Old Fashion, expertly crafted with Elijah Craig Bourbon, Demerara Syrup, Black Walnut Bitters, and Orange Bitters. Additionally, I indulged in a flight of Irish Whiskeys, including the esteemed Red Breast Cask Strength and Green Spot.



 

My journey through South Dakota encompassed a blend of solemn ceremonies, scenic road trips, and whiskey tastings. The state's whiskey offerings left an indelible mark on my palate. The captivating drive through Spearfish Canyon, the exploration of Deadwood's historical allure, and the visit to the Windsor Block Bar infused my journey with a touch of timeless charm. For whiskey enthusiasts and history aficionados alike, South Dakota promises a rich and flavorful experience that should not be overlooked.


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