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My Bourbon Journey

Posted on by Eric Burke

I orginally posted this as a comment on the Bourbon & Banter website. Thought I’d put it here too.

My bourbon journey started with a hot Sunday afternoon almost 2 years ago. In Minnesota you can’t buy any alcohol, but 3.2% beer on a Sunday. Being from Wisconsin, I can’t bring myself to drink that. So since I was out of beer, couldn’t buy any, and really wanted a cold one I was inspired by my then new favorite show, Mad Men, to check out what was in the liquor cabinet. Most of it had been there forever. A rum, a vodka, a few liqueurs that were so old that the cap wouldn’t come off. I looked at what I had, ran to the store to buy some club soda, made my self a drink (once I got home) and decided I liked cocktails. Things were going pretty good, I’d even found a way to keep a cocktail in the diet once I’d decided I’d needed to lose weight. I was exploring my way through the various categories in the liquors store. Gins, vodkas, tonics, syrups, various liqueurs. Never did get a taste for rum. 

Then I took a vacation. Due to my new found love of spirits, I looked and found a few craft distilleries along my route from Minnesota to Georgia. One of which was MB Roland located in the little tail of Kentucky (@MBRDISTILLERY on twitter, love those guys). I hadn’t made it to the whiskey section of the liquor store yet so I bought a bottle of the Malt Whiskey he was selling. I put it in the luggage and forgot about it until I got home. 

Once I got home, I decided to substitute this Malt Whiskey for my usual cocktail while watching Mad Men. I’d paid a lot for the little bottle, so I decided to not mix this and to try it straight. I’d heard that people did that with whiskey. One sip and I was hooked. I loved it. It was sweet without adding sugar, it was spicy and flavorful without bitters. I was shocked and I continued to sip on that little bottle until I realized that if I didn’t find anything to switch it up with, I’d be out really soon. And since he was a craft distiller, I’d have a long drive back to Kentucky if I wanted more. So I stopped by the liquor store to get another bottle of whiskey. Didn’t know what I wanted. Scotch was too expensive. So bourbon. I’d heard there were some good ones of that. 

I have no idea what I bought first. I do know that I liked whatever it was enough that within a few weeks, I’d bought Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark holiday gift packs. I also knew that as sad as I was to admit it, these bourbons were a lot more to my liking than the Malt Whiskey that had turned me on to whiskey in the first place. From that point on, I’ve been inspired to try every new kind I can. I’m up to 16 bourbons, 4 ryes, 2 non-bourbon experimental whiskies (from a craft distiller) and one quasi-local Irish Whiskey to help me celebrate St. Patty’s Day. My wife has had to put me on a whiskey budget each month (roughly $80 so I can get some of the higher end ones) and I’ve devoured every book on the history or how to make bourbon. I am fascinated my the stuff. I’m also a Bourbon Evangelist.

And I’m loving it.