Originally published in the ABV Network’s Whiskey Corner Blog October 26, 2019
As you build a taste for Bourbon drinking, most find themselves pairing their drink with another love. Whether you are coordinating your spirits with a delicious meal, a fine cigar, or good friends, it’s hard not to see why many pair it with something they enjoy. For me, the perfect marriage for whiskey is music.
Goodbye to the days of mix tapes (I totally dated myself with that, didn’t I?) and hello to the days of playlists.
I have a playlist for everything. Whatever I’ve listened to over the years, vinyl, cassette or compact disc, it’s now at the touch of my fingertips. Whether it’s music that filled my parent’s house when I was a child, my teenage rebellion angst, old boyfriend anguish, or my favorite show tunes, it’s all there — a little something for everyone, I suppose.
With my newly found love of Bourbon and the feelings it evokes, of course, I had to create a Whiskey Drinking playlist. I add to it regularly, but one constant is the genre — old-time Country/Bluegrass. Now, this may not be the genre for you; that’s fine, but for some reason, Bourbon takes me back to being a little girl in my aunt’s house. A large group would fill the living room with guitars and banjos “pickin’ and grinnin'” is what they called it. The old country songs would fill the house as we all sang along. So is it any wonder why I have such fondness for the music of the past and the new music that closely resembles it.
The songs of family histories of whiskey making and bootlegger days are, for me, the perfect marriage of Bourbon and Country/Bluegrass. If you were to hack into my Spotify account, you’d find an abundant listing of whiskey-titled or whiskey-themed songs, both old and new.
I’m sure the one song that will come to many minds is Chris Stapleton’s hit “Tennessee Whiskey.” Fun Fact: did you know that this was actually recorded back in 1981 by David Allen Coe? The late great George Jones re-released it two years later, and it became Number 2 on the charts. No one saw the success that Stapleton did with his rendition in 2015. His version went Platinum six times.
There are hundreds of drinkin’ songs that you can enjoy. There are old school tunes that include George Jones’ “White Lightning,” “The Ballad of Thunder Road” is another example from the 1950’s moonshining movie starring Robert Mitchum. Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” is another classic.
There are plenty of new artists with the same idea to honor their spirits in song. The Steeldrivers are my favorite for this very thing. Not surprisingly, this is the group where Chris Stapleton started out. So with that, we’re “Drinkin’ Dark Whiskey” and telling white lies, drinking some “Good Corn Liquor” or building a still on the “Blue Side of the Mountain.” They have a new release coming in 2020 that is about a bartender pouring shots. He “doesn’t pull the trigger; he just loads the gun” — an excellent analogy when you think about it.
There’s also Tyler Childers, a young man from Kentucky telling stories of “Bibles and Bottles” and wondering “If Whiskey Could Talk”. The titles are endless. Old or new, you can easily find something that (like whiskey, itself) suits your tastes.
This article would go on like “War and Peace” if I listed every single song by every single artist and genre. That was not my intent; I am merely sharing a few tunes that fill my patio when the fire pit is burning, and the Bourbon is flowing.
So here I have provided you a few of my favorites. I invite you to use your to create your very own playlist (or mixtape, if you’re still that old school) with songs that create the perfect Bourbon drinking mood for you. In the end, you should drink what you want how you want it, and you should listen to what you want when you want it.