[Ed's note: This is the first webisode of a video series called "Sandbagged," by KGB Productions, which documents the trials and tribulations of filming skiing in the state of Wyoming. The next webisode will be out in two weeks, and you can find it right here on ESPN Freeskiing. KGB is currently working on a feature film due out next fall called "Wyoming Triumph." Writer Brigid Mander visited the guys from KGB to drink whiskey and talk about their film.]
As I step inside the office of KGB Productions in Jackson, Wyo., it strikes me that a sip of whisky would be the perfect thing to take the edge off this raw Sunday evening. Which is fortunate because KGB happens to be the only ski movie company with a whisky brand, Wyoming Whisky, as its presenting sponsor.
I've come by to chat about KGB's current movie project, "Wyoming Triumph," which is a film about skiing the farthest mountainous reaches of Wyoming (contrary to popular belief, there are a few other worthy ranges in the state besides the Tetons.) The film was originally due out this fall, but there was so much terrain to explore that they decided to give it another year of filming, so it'll debut in the fall of 2011.
But then I get the bad news. Sam Pope and Chris Kitchen, co-owners of KGB, inform me that there is no whiskey. Instead, Pope asks hospitably, "Would you like a bloody Mary?"
Wyoming Whisky is apparently so new that the booze isn't even ready yet. Kitchen says it'll likely be ready in about two years. The first batch is still aging in its casks in Kirby, Wyo. If we were to drink it now, Pope and Kitchen assure me, it would taste like Everclear. It's still drawing flavor and color from the casks. "The brewer is just going to taste it one day and then he will know it is ready," Pope says.
We settle in and I learn that not only is Wyoming Whiskey the only whisky company currently sponsoring a ski film, but it's also the only bourbon ever to be brewed west of the Mississippi. Pope and Kitchen say they were just up at the brewery for two days, filming the brewing process. The brewer, formerly the master brewer at Maker's Mark, was brought out of retirement for the Wyoming Whisky project and expectations are high.
"So, how did you end up with a whisky that is not even for sale yet as a sponsor for a ski flick?" I ask.
"Well, mostly what they saw in partnering with our film was a way of promoting the state and idea of Wyoming and the outdoors to their market," Kitchen says.
They tell me how difficult it's been accessing the far-reaching peaks around Wyoming. Not only do they have to pore over topo maps, hobnob with local ranchers, hunters and cowboys to find the best access routes, but then they have to bushwhack miles into uncharted territory. Sometimes this involves multiple days, broken sleds and athlete meltdowns, only to arrive to find bad weather and lines that have slid out. But sometimes, they get lucky and find perfect conditions and big, powdery lines.
But back to the whiskey. I have to ask whether they see it as conflict to have an alcohol sponsor for a film about athletes. Kitchen is prepared for this question. "We don't have to drink a lot of it or anything," he says. "Most of our athletes don't even drink -- they don't like to, and a few are under 21."
"I'm still disappointed you have no whisky for me to try," I tell them.
"Yeah, well, sorry," says Kitchen. "Most of the time we spend working and drinking orange juice anyway." Pope and Kitchen look at each other and nod.
I guess we'll have to take their word for it.