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Reality Check: Hoping for greatness as alcohol meets cameras in 'Alaska Proof'

  • Author: Emily Fehrenbacher
    | Reality Check
  • Updated: July 1, 2016
  • Published January 12, 2016

While it seems like the entire world, and by world I actually mean Internet, is watching "Making a Murderer," there is a new Alaska show airing on Thursday. "Alaska Proof" is an eight-part series about the making of vodka at the Alaska Distillery.

I have a lot of questions. Why is this on Animal Planet? Is this going to be like "Moonshiners"? Is there really enough drama in the distilling process to justify an entire series? Are they going to give animals vodka? Will there be a lot of drinking on this program?

Let's take a look at the "Alaska Proof" trailer to find answers to these pressing questions.

Scene: A dog team runs through the forest. We meet Toby. An eagle soars. We see a bush plane fly through the mountains.

"I was a bush pilot in Alaska, until 8 years ago when I crashed my plane and I decided that life's too short. So I used my life savings to start the Alaska Distillery," says Toby Foster (owner of Alaska Distillery).

While I don't exactly understand Toby's logic, I like that his near-death experience has enabled the smoked salmon Bloody Mary and so many other Alaskana beverages.

Cut to a majestic shot of what I assume is the Alaska Distillery property, which features a few very expensive-looking homes on two beautiful lakes. Next to these mansions are the following: a giant industrial building, a gravel pit, a snowmachine or two and a bonfire pit.

Context clues tell me "Alaska Proof" can only take place in the Mat-Su.

Inside the distillery we see all sorts of science-y things* going into bottles and tubes, and finally a dude in a silly hat drinking Outlaw Whiskey. We meet Shane, who has some well-maintained beard curls.

"We go to the far reaches of the frontier to find the best, purest ingredients that scream Alaska," he says. Shane then spots bears while apparently on a hike, followed by unconnected shots of whales, shrimp and honey bees.

This could lead one to believe that bear-, whale- and shrimp-flavored vodkas exist, but alas, they do not. I hope these flavors are debuted after the show airs.

We meet Chrissy, the only woman in the promo. She climbs a Sitka spruce tree to find just the right needles. "I'm the only person who has ever seen this view," she says.

The view looks a lot like Girdwood, but technically I bet no one has seen that view from that tree before.

Glaciers, glaciers calving and a discussion of 10,000-year-old water. This is followed by a fellow named Andy saying, "We don't have the most conventional methods," while he holds up a shot glass.

Here's my qualm, promo trailer editors. You could have put that quote from Andy in any other scene, but placed it while he is holding up a shot glass. That's how most people drink alcohol. It's real conventional.

Then we see Andy trying to capture smoke, followed by a staff person lighting their hand on fire. "Here at Alaska Distillery, there is an adventure in every bottle," says the narrator. Back to a shot of a glacier with title cards, and the promo ends.

I'm hopeful for "Alaska Proof," but only because I know that when you mix cameras and alcohol, great things happen. See also: every show on Bravo and MTV.

Finally, I got some cray cray emails after my last column about "Alaskan Bush People." Dear readers: I do not know the Browns. I am not the girl that went on a date with Bear (gross). I do not know how to contact them. But I hear that you may be able to contact Billy and Bam in jail.

*Technical term for distilling equipment

Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage, where she reviews Alaska reality TV. You can reach her at realitycheck@alaskadispatch.com or on Twitter @ETFBacher.

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