Close

My Bourbon Journey

Posted on by Eric Burke

Being originally from Wisconsin, my first love was beer. After moving to Minnesota, I was shocked to discover that on Sunday the only beer you could purchase was 3.2% ABV versions of Bud, Miller and Coors. I decided right then that I needed to make sure I did my beer shopping on Saturday. But, one hot summer Sunday afternoon, when I went to the fridge to grab a beer, I discovered I was out.

Inspired by the cocktail culture that was starting to blossom in the country at that particular moment in history, I decided to turn my attention to my long-neglected liquor cabinet. I had the thought to might make myself a highball, though I didn’t know it was called that at the time. Most of the spirits in that cabinet had been there forever. I think there was a bottle of rum, a vodka and a few liqueurs. Out of those meager beginnings, a love of cocktails was born. And learning about cocktails meant learning about spirits. And the best way to learn about spirits is to try them. Starting with what was in the cabinet, I worked my way through the varieties of clear spirits until I happened upon a craft distiller in southern Kentucky named MB Roland.

It was at MB Roland where I first tasted whiskey. In this case, a malt whiskey that they were experimenting with. I loved it so much, I didn’t feel the need to add anything to it. Not to get too hyperbolic about it, but it really was the dawn of a new age for me.

Immediately upon returning home from that trip, I started learning everything I could about whiskey. One of the first things I realized was that while I had consumed whiskey before visiting MB Roland, I’d never tasted it before. Like most dumb, college-aged men I’d done way too many shots of Jack, which I really didn’t like. So much so that as I matured, I basically gave up spirits until that fateful Sunday mentioned above. But tasting is so much more than consuming. Tasting is more thoughtful than drinking, sometimes even analytical.

And that was a big realization for me. It led me to want to learn other things about whiskey. I tore through every book I could find on the subject. I visited every distillery I happened across. I read blogs and forums, anything and everything to learn more. And I didn’t just want the fantasies and marketing speak, I wanted the science and the history. I’m a history buff who reads history texts for fun and started college with the goal of becoming a scientist, so digging beyond the surface came naturally to me. As I learned more and more, I realized that I could start sharing some of this knowledge with others. And so, I started BourbonGuy.com.

Five years later, I’m still digging, still tasting and still learning. The bourbon landscape has changed, but the passion of its fans has not. Maybe we can learn something together.

Discussion off