As I’ve proclaimed elsewhere on this website, I really, really love bourbon. My love for bourbon has resulted in a personal bourbon collection of around 20 different brands, a fantastic Facebook page about Bourbon that is growing in popularity, this website and a growing network of friends around the country who love bourbon as much as I do. Reflecting on all these great things it’s hard to believe that about 4.5 years ago I didn’t even drink bourbon. In fact, I think that I can tell you that the only bourbon I had consumed up till then was Jim Beam in a “Three Wise Men” shot back in college. (For those of you unfamiliar with the Three Wise Men shot it’s a glass full of a shot each of Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker. Not necessarily something that will make you found of bourbon or whiskey.
So how did I go from being totally ignorant of bourbon to a huge fan and evangelist of the bourbon gospel? What’s my personal bourbon journey?
Truth be told it was a combination of my work schedule and a desire to simplify my life. Let me explain.
At the time, 4.5 years ago, my job had be traveling 30-40% of the time. Many of these trips involved late night dinners and entertaining. Although I would make sure to be moderate with the amount of alcohol I consumed while out on business I started noticing that my mornings were getting rougher and rougher. I wasn’t waking up with a full-blown hangover but I was finding myself more tired and groggy. After exchanging my story with some friends I realized that perhaps it was what I was drinking that was causing the problem.
You see, at the time my favorite drink was the classic 7 & 7. And when I didn’t have one of those in my hand you would find me with a vodka and 7-Up or similar sugar + alcohol mixed drink. I started to realize that it was the combination of cheap alcohol and sugar that was leaving me a bit leftover in the mornings.
I decided to get rid of the sugar immediately and switched to vodka + diet 7-Up or if necessary, rum and diet coke. While it definitely solved the morning grogginess it was a complete pain in the ass. Seriously. It was a complete and total pain in the ass. Do you have any idea how hard it is to consistently find bars that stock diet 7-Up? It’s a rare thing indeed. And the whole rum + diet coke routine? Well that’s a good way to get constantly teased by your colleagues all night. (“Hey sweetie, trying to watch your figure?”)
This is where my desire to simplify my life kicked in and led my down the road to bourbon.
I decided that it was too much work, and too much hassle, to find diet 7-Up or drink rum + diet Coke. It was time to simplify my life and find a straight drink that I could enjoy. On the recommendation of a few friends I turned to Scotch to see if it fit my needs. As you already know Scotch was not the answer. It fell too much into the “acquired taste” category for me and I couldn’t run away from it fast enough. (To be fair, I have become found of some of the milder Scotch’s but I still can’t handle the smokey and peaty varieties.
Since Scotch was a no go for me I turned my inexperienced palette towards bourbon.
My first taste of bourbon was Maker’s Mark from a bottle supplied by a friend. My inexperienced palette definitely jumped at the first taste but after the initial shock became quickly accustomed to bourbon’s now familiar tasting notes. I knew almost immediately that I had found my drink and that my search was over. Within a few weeks I headed out to buy my first bottle of bourbon and came home with a bottle of Black Maple Hill. And from that bottle my love and admiration of bourbon has continued to grow.
Shortly after I began drinking bourbon the industry really started to grow and I’ve been thrilled to witness the rebirth of the bourbon industry as a true fan and believer in the bourbon gospel. And with that growth I see more and more people embracing bourbon for the first time or simply admitting in public for the first time their love of bourbon. (I think the whole “I’m afraid to tell others I like bourbon” thing is a topic for another post.)
Everyone has their own journey of coming to love bourbon. I hope that you enjoyed mine. If you have the inclination please share your own journey in the comments section of this post.
And as always, please visit us on Facebook to join the conversation and make sure to share this post with some of your bourbon loving friends.