I consider myself a newborn in this Bourbon world. It all started in Spring of 2018 when I took a trip to South Carolina for work. I’ve always considered myself a Whiskey Girl. Drinking Jack and Coke was a constant and my signature. How Original!
While in a bar in Greenville, I ordered a Jack and Coke to the bartenders dismay. I remember Mathew very clearly. He proceeded to give me the whiskey inquisition questioning my taste in spirits. “Do you really like that charcoal?” “What about Bourbon?” I was clueless in what the hell he was talking about. I thought it was all the same. Some of it burns, some of it tastes like water. Throw it in coke and call it good. Besides Jack Daniels, I’d had Jim Beam white label. I’m ashamed to admit but, to me it was like ordering a coke in a restaurant, sometimes you get Pepsi, sometimes you get Coke is there really a difference? That was the extent of my whiskey experience. (Shuttering to think of it)
I finally broke down and let Mathew bring me a drink he swore I’d love. So he presented me with what would become my daily drinker while in town. A beautiful amber liquid with a splash of ginger ale. I was in heaven. (Now picture Neo in the Matrix taking the red pill that awakened his senses to truth) That day Mathew gave me the red pill and it’s name was Four Roses.
Of course when I got back home to Denver I could only find Four Roses in the liquor stores. NO ONE had even heard of it when I’d walk in a bar. So I started ordering Beam in Coke in lieu of the Jack. But I had my Four Roses yellow label at home waiting for that splash of ginger ale and I started adding a muddled basil leaf. (This became my new signature cocktail!)
In late summer, I began going to a Bourbon cafe a few miles away in Arvada. I was schooled by the staff with flight after flight of delicious wonderment. I was in Heaven once again surrounded by men with names like Elijah, Basil, Henry to name a few. A special lady named Kathleen graced my lips in a bottle labeled Booker’s. I was hooked. It became more than just a drink. It was about the nose, the taste, and then feelings and memories all these senses awakened in me. It all became very clearer and I was bit by the bourbon bug and I thirsted for more.
My next bottle purchase was an Elijah Craig Small Batch. I then stumbled across 2 bottles of Booker’s Kathleen’s Batch. I was building a collection and I didn’t know it.
Occasionally the Bluegrass Cafe would host tastings. Beam Suntory was the first my husband and I attended. We were shown how to do the Kentucky Chew and treated to historical stories of the family as well as the tasty treats they distilled. Various Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek’s and Booker’s were all on the menu.
I wanted to learn as much as possible about the history and the process. So I joined the Stave & Thief Society and started working towards my Bourbon Stewardship. This was getting serious now. More bottles were slowly added to the collection, Michter’s and of course dozens of Jim Beam white.
The next class (yes class, I considered these tastings On The Job Training) was in the fall and it was Belle Meade. Another unicorn for me as the local stores didn’t stock it. I played hell trying to find it anywhere, and when I did it wasn’t the one I wanted.
Eventually I started reading everything bourbon and listening to the ABV Podcast Network. Buying bottles based on what I was hearing the Bourbon famous folks talk about. Boubons like Yellowstone, Evan Williams, Woodford Reserve and so on. Almost overnight my one or two bottles became double digits and then some.
The last training of 2108 was early November and this one was Wild Turkey with none other than Joann Street, Jimmy Russell’s grand daughter. The newest Ambassador for Wild Turkey. With WT81, Russell’s Reserve, Longbranch and Rare Breed. She spoke of her family like they were regular people. These were the Russell’s for cryin’ out loud. She has forgotten more about Bourbon than I’ll ever know and she was just a kid. I was completely starstruck. Talking to her put everything in perspective. I now understood why this had become such a passion.
My love for history and family has always been great. Like my passion and drive for genealogy, the bourbon industry was just that. The history of the distilleries, the men and their families that made it all so…that’s it. It’s all coming together now.
As a kid at family gatherings my cousin’s would all be out playing and I’d be in the house listening to all the adults share stories of who did what and when. With that knowledge I’ve now become the keeper of the trunk so to speak. I am the one everyone calls when they have family tree questions. I’m the one that knows who did what and when. Because I not only listened but I was passionate about who these people were. I truly think that’s why I’m so taken with the Bourbon industry. I even hesitate to call it an industry. I’d prefer to think of it as a Bourbon family.
The more history I learn about the distilleries the more I want to know. So as I continue to grow my collection and knowledge I’m sharing. Just as I’ve shared my family history with others. I now share my love of bourbon and the history I’ve learned so far.
Once the teacup of knowledge is full you’re suppose to dump it and refill it in order to gain more knowledge. I’d prefer to picture it full of bourbon and I’d like to drink it all and then refill it in order to gain more knowledge as a whole.