I stopped by my local beer distributor and those were the first words out of their mouth. “Where have you been?” After thinking about it for a moment I realized he was right. I hadn’t dropped by more than once the whole summer. Of course some of the time I had been away, but the real reason for my absence was that this summer I fell in love with bourbon.
It started out innocently enough. About five years ago my aunt brought us a bottle of Blanton’s and we were immediately smitten. This will come as no surprise to most bourbon drinkers since Blanton’s is pretty high up the food chain selling for $60 or more. To put it in beer terms it’s kind of like starting out with a St Bernardus 12. Of course we didn’t know any of that at the time.. we just knew we liked it.
In time we started to try other, less pricy bottles like Four Roses and Jefferson’s. It wasn’t long until you could find a bottle bourbon in our cabinet all the time. In time rye joined the party as well.
By 2014 that gift of a single bottle had ballooned into a regular part of our routine. But beer was still far and away my go to beverage. All that changed this August. In the course of a single week bourbon managed to eclipse beer as my evening libation.
So what lead to such a radical conversion? The answer was an amazing six day trip to Kentucky. With some expert guidance from the great Lew Bryson, my wonderful wife managed to map out a way for us to hit 11 distilleries in 5 days plus squeeze in a trip to Mammoth Cave to boot. I’ll go into more details about where we went and what we learned in a future post.
But this brings me to perhaps the most ineffable, yet also most important, reason why that week altered my preferences in a way I would have never thought possible… namely that the love of bourbon is something my wife and I now share. Don’t get me wrong- she likes beer just fine. But in over 25 years together she has never, and I mean never, showed the kind of enthusiasm for discussing and analyzing beer that she does for bourbon and rye.
That added value is what finally toppled beer from its long held zenith. That few minutes of discussion about which of the now many different bottles we’d like to share that night or the enjoyment of trying something new together… well it really enhances the experience and makes an already delicious beverage all the more enjoyable.
I confess that I am still getting used to this new order of things. At times when I go to the liquor cabinet for a night cap, it feels like I am cheating on my poor beer fridge out in the garage. And who knows? In time beer might just climb its way back to the top. But for now both my beer fridge and my local distributor will have to get used to seeing less of me.