It's Not The Destination, It's The Bourbon Journey Header

It’s Not The Destination But The (#DrinkCurious) Journey

In Banter by Lee Stang5 Comments

I awoke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves
When you just don't seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in

Night Moves, Bob Seeger

This song is one of my favorites, as is this particular verse. One, because, as a weather geek, I like to lie in bed and listen to thunder off in the distance. The last line though always makes me think about a journey whenever I hear this song or it pops up in my head, or when I hear thunder in the distance.

On February 7th, it will be five years since my first article appeared in Bourbon & Banter. And on February 9th I will be 68 years old. Quite the journey so far. However, my bourbon journey is just starting to enter late summer.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon with Lee Stang

Yes, the fact is I have been drinking bourbon for 60 years. I remember in the early 60s, my Dad taking me to the liquor store to pick up his pint of Ancient Age. He would have a small juice glass of AA and coke with a cube every night after work. You know a half glass of bourbon and coke with a melted ice cube looks a lot like iced tea, which my Mom made for dinner every night. One evening after dinner I came into the kitchen thirsty and saw that glass of what I thought was tea and took a big gulp. That was an eye opener. A couple of years ago during a visit to The Milk Room in Chicago, they had a pour of Ancient Age from the early 60s on the menu. It was going for $160.

Yes, I have always drank bourbon, It has not always been my go to choice. I started with Jim Beam and Jack Daniels. Then it was Makers Mark, Knob Creek and Blanton’s. Always with Coke or Diet Coke. Why? Because that’s all I knew.

Bourbon Flavor Wheel & Tasting Mats

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Then one night over Thanksgiving weekend in 2004, my wife Patti and I were in Ocean City, MD. I ordered a Knob Creek and Diet at the hotel bar. But the bartender says, hey try this and poured me a Buffalo Trace neat. That’s when everything changed, and my bourbon journey took off.

As I said before my first article appeared in Bourbon and Banter on February 7th. It was about Sidebar Bistro, a bourbon and burger bar in Aruba. I had applied to a tweet by Pops Garrett our founder, looking for writers. At the time I was considering starting my own Bourbon Blog but then this opportunity presented itself. And I was one of eight to be selected on the first pass. Out of that group of eight, five still remain. I guess I thought I had something to say about bourbon.

I’m not a bourbon expert by any means. Nor do I have a great palate for tasting. I don’t normally nose or taste all those different notes that some writers do. For a while that bothered me but then I came across this paragraph from Julian Van Winkle III in an article entitled “The Great Bourbon Taste Test,” published in Garden and Gun Magazine, November 2015: “Van Winkle sat on a pile of cookbooks (in Brock’s apartment whiskey fills the bookshelves; books go on the floor) and put his nose into his glass. “This is from back in the day. A little oxidized,” he said, when pressed for a description. “Not much oak, huge vanilla. Funky, basementy.” He took a sip, tested his palate, and awaited the arrival of adjectives that did not come. “Aw, hell, I’m the worst whiskey writer. I like it or I don’t. This, I like.” I definitely can tell you if I like it or not. I can tell you if I would buy a bottle or not and give you my thoughts. I am just not that good picking out dry apricots or fig pudding. I know people have the ability to do this but the quote kind of puts things in perspective.

As 2020 started I thought maybe it would be the year where all the bourbon craziness would start to subside. Maybe the bourbon boom would be entering into autumn. Instead, it appears it is still in the long hot summer. If anything, the craziness has increased. Here in Virginia, people line up for four hours before the liquor stores open because there are rumors that Blanton’s or Buffalo Trace will be delivered that day. As the year went on and the virus took hold, I thought this would certainly slow down the craft distillery boom and also the crazy pricing. But that hasn’t happened either at least not to my knowledge. And as the year went on I started to think that maybe I don’t have much more to say about bourbon. But as I started to think about this article, I realized that there are things I still want to say, so stay tuned.

Wild Turkey Barrel Pick Trip Photo

Being part of Bourbon & Banter has afforded me great opportunities and memories that I won’t forget. Certainly, our first barrel picking trip to Wild Turkey in 2017 was one of the most memorable highlights. The opportunity to taste bourbon barrels with Eddie Russell, listen to his stories, and share the experience with other bourbon enthusiasts is forever etched in my mind. The whole trip was incredible.

It is always exciting to have free bourbon samples show up at your house or get invited to visit a distillery and talk with the owner are other opportunities I have had because just because I write for Bourbon & Banter.

The best thing about Bourbon & Banter however, is the friendship and camaraderie between the members of the B&B team. The ability to come together either in person or virtually to discuss bourbon, share banter, and various viewpoints of bourbon lovers from coast to coast is what #drinkcurious is all about.

Lee Stang - Sr. Contributor for Bourbon & Banter Cheers PhotoA year ago, Patti and I spent February 7th through the 9th in Annapolis, MD. It is one of our favorite places. It is also the location of Dry 85, maybe my most favorite bourbon bars. They may not have the biggest selection of bourbon, but they have some great ones. In addition, they always have a number of private picks on hand. Every private pick I have tasted there have been incredible. Sometime there is the opportunity to buy one and take it home. It has been a crazy year and we look forward to going back to Dry 85 again soon and doing the other things we took for granted before.

No, my bourbon journey is still going strong. It has allowed me to meet great people and make great friends. I’m looking forward to see where it leads. And I still have some things I want to say. Stay tuned to Bourbon and Banter and by all means #drinkcurious!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sr. Contributor |

Lee’s bourbon journey started with one mistaken gulp of bourbon and coke as an eight-year-old. While bourbon was always part of his life, Lee followed a beer, wine path for the most part until a bartender poured him a taste of Buffalo Trace about ten years ago. It was at that point Lee’s love of bourbon really took off. Not only does Lee enjoy a good pour of bourbon but he is more than willing and excited to talk about it. Lee believes that bourbon, and for that matter all spirits, is enhanced by the experience of good company, good conversation and good bars. The combination leads to great stories. Say hi to him when you see him. Lee lives in Leesburg, VA, with his wife, best friend, and drinking partner, Patti. You might find her having a bourbon as well. Both Lee and Patti like to read mystery thrillers and travel. Most likely the travel leads to visits to new bars. Read Lee's full profile.

About the Author

Lee Stang

Twitter

Lee’s bourbon journey started with one mistaken gulp of bourbon and coke as an eight-year-old. While bourbon was always part of his life, Lee followed a beer, wine path for the most part until a bartender poured him a taste of Buffalo Trace about ten years ago. It was at that point Lee’s love of bourbon really took off. Not only does Lee enjoy a good pour of bourbon but he is more than willing and excited to talk about it. Lee believes that bourbon, and for that matter all spirits, is enhanced by the experience of good company, good conversation and good bars. The combination leads to great stories. Say hi to him when you see him. Lee lives in Leesburg, VA, with his wife, best friend, and drinking partner, Patti. You might find her having a bourbon as well. Both Lee and Patti like to read mystery thrillers and travel. Most likely the travel leads to visits to new bars. Read Lee's full profile.

  • Erin Petrey says:

    So glad to have met you, Lee! Even though we only live a few dozen miles from each other, we likely would’ve never met if it weren’t for this great website. Cheers to many more years and many more drams.

  • Nancy Presto. says:

    Happiest of birthdays to you! I share the same birthday and a love of bourbon so cheers!

  • Tim Hudson says:

    Dry 85 is excellent! Our son graduated from USNA in 2015. I miss those trips to DTA. Thanks for all of your input!!

  • Jim Ross says:

    Lee, glad you admit to not have the nose for various bourbon. Like you I either like or dislike a bourbon. I, myself, started with Jim Beam and coke. Still drink a lot of them with coke. However I ran across across a small distillery in Leclaire, Iowa that buts out some very good bourbon in small lots. Their Cody Road (Leclaire is the boyhood home of Buffalo Bill Cody), is in my opinion an excellent bourbon. The name of the distillery is Mississippi River Distilling Co. (www.mrdistilling.com). Try some if you get a chance, if you haven’t already.