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Barrel_Proof
05-29-2012, 09:58
Dear Friends:

It's hard for me to believe that the bourbon world lost one of its greatest ambassadors -- Tim Sousley -- exactly one year ago today. I'd like to honor him by assembling some reflections on this fine man who was a great good friend to so many of us.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the visit I had with Tim and his girlfriend Tommie only weeks before he passed. I drove to Columbia, TN, where Tim showed me around his house and property before we did some A and B tasting of the two KBS 1792 bottlings I was delivering to him. Later, Tommie joined us and we drove to their favorite restaurant to treat out of town visitors -- Papa Boudreaux's Cajun Cafe. During the meal, they spoke fondly of having similarly entertained Gary and Libby Gillman at this restaurant! It was a wonderful day and evening full of telling stories, sampling bourbons, reminiscing about good times with shared friends. Little did I know, however, that only weeks later Tim would be gone.

Tim was a kind and generous soul. He was a dear friend to our family. He loved my kids, as they did him.

I miss him so, to this day.

--Cliff

BourbonJoe
05-29-2012, 10:29
I can't believe it has been a year already since we lost Tim. He was a good friend to many people, including me and Doug. One of the last times I saw him at a Gazebo was on his birthday. He brought many bourbons from his birth year - 1957, including what may have been the best Old Grandad I've ever tasted. I really miss him and his generosity and warm charm.
Joe :usflag:

Gillman
05-29-2012, 11:37
Thanks very much, Cliff, for remembering this important but most sad anniversary. Some here probably don't know, or recall, that you played a vital part in contacting Tim's blood relations after the tragedy (who lived in a different part of the country), and but for your prompt and effective actions, they might not have known for some time of his passing and the whole thing would have been even more difficult than it was.

Libby recently asked me if Tim was mentioned on the occasion of the last SB gathering in Bardstown: I said not to my knowledge, but that I was sure all who knew him were thinking of him at times and wishing he was still amongst us.

I recall our visit that Cliff mentioned with great pleasure. Tim was particularly proud of the visits paid to him by SB members but also of visits he made to others and he mentioned Dawn and Jon's place in particular in this regard, a trip he made there for a party. He loved to share - to a fault sometimes as Cliff noted on an earlier occasion with his usual acuity - and he asked nothing in return: in a word, he gave way more than he received in life.

He had an unusually broad and seemingly, or to me, inconsistent, partly, set of interests. He was at times, a teacher, a journalist, a sports fanatic (and combined both earlier in this career), a motor enthusiast, a wine and whiskey collector, a politics junkie (but measured, usually, in his reaction to those he disagreed with), and interested in ideas, in what is now called intellectual or cultural history. An educator, jock, gearhead, gastronome, journalist and intellect. The Sousley Salon, it was called at GN, the sessions in his room.

He is up there gazing at us as we gather without him, smiling and suffused with happiness that people continue to make friends and share ardent but respectful opinions amongst bottles of high proof. Outsiders usually express surprise at such an unlikely combination, but there you go, and no one understood the ethos better than Tim. Towards the end he didn't come as often but that would have been temporary, and I was particularly glad that on his last visit, he was able to meet some then-new members of the board including, as I well remember, Thad. I was so happy they met but can only feel sadness it could not continue as I'm sure they would have become good friends.

We salute you, Tim, on this important day, and won't forget.

Gary

T Comp
05-29-2012, 16:00
I believe Tim's last taste at the gazebo was from a Japanese Export single barrel bottled by Cecil Withrow as Stone Castle that I found on a store shelf in Chicago marked down to $13.99. It was actually very good, 106 proof unfiltered whiskey, which Tim was intrigued on the source...leading to his delay in leaving for further nosing and tasting...till he proudly exclaimed Buffalo Trace and then felt free to go. I don't save many empty bottles but this one I have.

Here's a great example of Tim's acumen and even prescience (note specifically Wild Turkey) in a thread from 2006 on summing up each bourbon maker. I didn't get to spend as much time with him as you old timers but knew him well enough to know all that has been said in tribute is so true and he is missed.

I'll take a shot:

Buffalo Trace -- fruit over spice, 'wry' over rye? Eponymous Buffalo Trace would be their quintessential pour if more widely available. Could it be, in practice, Ancient Age, or AAA?
Heaven Hill -- Motto: Millions are enough! Thank God for family. Stockholders would ruin this company's value-priced lineup. Evan Williams Black Label sells like the Dickens in our store.
Beam Brands -- Do we make good money, or do we make good whiskey? The anti-HH. Okay, I understand it. JB Black shows they could be like Heaven Hill if that was their profile.
Four Roses -- the best whiskey you've never had. Any era, any style, a Four Roses label will stoke your curiosity. The Single Barrel is today's tease.
Barton Brands -- The corporate version of Heaven Hill. Remember that Ridgemont barrel sample, folks? These guys make superb whiskey! Then they dilute it in lesser labels in order to improve them. And sell a lot of it. The 1792 is they best they bottle, not the best they make, alas.
Wild Turkey -- Wild card! I suspect this label will wilt when Jimmy retires. I hope it is not so. But the 'in-your-face' attitude of WT products is the antithesis of what the 'suits' are looking for these days. Without Jimmy's authority behind production, the suits will win (they always do!). The bourbon will lose. Russell's Reserve 90 may be the most meaningful.
Maker's Mark -- Do you know that MM raises its prices every time Jack Daniel's does? They want to be in the same 'premium' niche -- overpriced young whiskey that people can't get enough of. Jeesh! Great work if you can find it. Looks like life-time bachelor Jack Daniel finally got caught by the Redhead.
Brown-Forman -- Who are these guys? They can sell mediocre product gussied up as JD or Woodford Reserve (we won't even mention Early Times!), but have to celebrate a Birthday or create a Signature to get folks to notice the star of their lineup. Then they double the price. Seek out the old labels, folks -- save some money AND a fine whiskey tradition.

Bourbon Boiler
05-29-2012, 17:54
I would take very little issue with that 2006 post today. I did not meet Mr. Sousley outside of this forum, but I do recall that he was very friendly with me as a beginner on this site and to the hobby. Bourbon is meant to be enjoyed with others who share the passion, a fact that is sometimes easy to overlook.

Gillman
05-29-2012, 18:21
Excellent notes, Thad. "Do we make money or do we make whiskey?". You gotta love what Tim was all about which was partly too verbal fireworks - the man wrote for a living at one time, and never forgot how!

Gary

TomH
05-29-2012, 20:30
When Tim left the gazebo for the last time, I told him to take my ORVW 15/107 bottle which just had less than an inch left in it. He told me as left that he would make sure it lasted a while, but in a later email told me that it went pretty quick. I had no idea when I gave him that bottle that it would be the last whiskey we would share, but I was glad it was SW especially after all of the old SW's he had previously shared with me.

I just poured my 2nd glass of ORVW15 tonight and drink it while remembering Tim (my first pour was for my birthday). While its easy to remember the great whiskey shared, the memories of cyber conversations and friendship are even better.

ACDetroit
05-29-2012, 21:30
I know I'm not around much, but still remember the days of being a newbie here. Tim was quite often in chat and sharing his thoughts on whatever he was pouring for the evening. Making mixed drinks with unobtainable bottles...Tim always said "if you going to make a good mixed drink you better start with the best ingredients".

I remember seeing wedding pictures posted here from maybe 2007 time frame and Tim was in them. That's how I recognized him at my first sampler in 2008, as usual Tim's door was wide open, as I looked in noticing Tim, I said his name and introduced myself. Unexpectedly, I was immediately pulled into his room and taken on a tour of all he had brought to sample 8 yr old Weller's 2 bottles from the 50's, Old Fitz from the 60's and to this day the most amazing 1949 IW Harper BIB.

I think of Tim quite often and his amazing generosity, knowledge and the smile on his face sharing whiskey with friends.

Thanks Cliff for getting this rolling, though sometimes tough. The memories we have of Tim are all great ones.

fishnbowljoe
05-29-2012, 22:54
Like Cliff said, it's hard to believe it's been a year since Tim's passing. I consider myself lucky in that I was able to meet and socialize with him a few times during my short tenure here at SB.

I didn't get to know Tim well, but there are a couple of things that I remember most about him. For one, we all know that Tim could talk some. At the same time, he also had the innate ability to listen just as well. That's something that I wish I myself was better at. The second thing that struck me about him, was his sense of humor. I thought he was funny as hell. :grin: His wit and humor may have been a bit dry for some people, but I understood it. I'm pretty sure some folks just didn't get it. That's what made some of his off the cuff comments even more hilarious. Whether in person, or through some of his posts here at SB, it was great. I remember one time at the gazebo in particular. I was on the fringe of a conversation that Tim was a part of. Sorry, but I can't remember the other participant(s), or the subject matter. Hell, it was the gazebo. :rolleyes: I vaguely remember that it was a discussion that had the possibility of getting a bit out of hand. The ball was in Tim's court, and he came out of left field with a zinger. No emotion. Deadpan look on his face. The look on the other persons face was total bewilderment. I almost choked on my drink. :lol: The other guy just shook his head, then turned around and walked off. I went to get another pour with a smile on my face. Thanks Tim.

Joe

ratcheer
05-30-2012, 07:33
Thanks, Cliff. Tim was a wonderful, dear friend and we all miss him. A gentleman in the truest sense of the word.

Tim

smokinjoe
05-30-2012, 18:23
Thanks Cliff, for letting us reminisce on a truly generous and thoughtful friend of ours. As I attend or listen to the Braves dozens of times from April to October, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to think of Tim often. As many know, Dan Uggla of the Braves was from Tim's town of Columbia, TN. He wrote here fondly of watching Uggla play ball from Little League and into the Majors. Particularly, his writings of Uggla during his early career in Florida have always stuck with me. So, barely a day has gone by during the season that I don't get the opportunity to remember, albeit with a dose of sadness, our friend that we lost too soon.

Barrel_Proof
05-29-2013, 15:50
Miss you still, Tim, but my life is better for having known you. I'll raise a glass to you again tonight, my friend. 15502

squire
05-29-2013, 16:48
As will I Cliff, as will I, Tim was a remarkable fellow whose presence enriched those around him.

camduncan
05-29-2013, 16:58
I'll be raising a glass of something special to remember Tim tonight. He is definately missed. For those who didn't know him, here's an example of the types of bottles he liked to share with friends. These were his offerings at the 2008 Sampler...

scratchline
05-29-2013, 21:49
Drove down to Columbia with my friend, Bill, to visit Tim several years before he passed. He knew me casually from SB and didn't know Bill at all. We walked into his apartment (this was before he bought his house) and were stunned by the hundreds of bottles of fine and rare bourbon that lined the walls. Tim told us that we were welcome to anything there. I remember trying the 1957 OGD bond that Joe mentioned at the top of this thread and a 17 yr old barrel proof Stitzel-Weller that Julian had swapped Tim for one of his unusual bottles of Old Fitz. And a copper penny bottle of Woodford Reserve. Many others that I can't recall. Then we all went out to dinner.

When I got back to NYC, I sent Tim a bottle of WT 12, a bourbon that I had sampled on his recommendation years before and had loved. It was a paltry offering for a man who had everything but I thought Tim might like it. Tim's spirit of generosity was so immense that it inspired others. But you always felt like you were playing catch-up with him.

I saw him a couple more times in NYC when he was visiting Cliff. Once in Queens and once in Manhattan. We walked through Central Park and he talked about bringing Tommie with him on his next visit.

I was in London when I was shocked to learn of his untimely passing. That night a bunch of British and American actors toasted his memory with Jim Beam Six Grain at the Old Vic. I was happy knowing that his spirit had reached across the Atlantic and touched people he hadn't known in his lifetime.

I'll borrow and paraphrase a passage from John Berryman to sum up my thoughts and feelings about Tim:

"I declare a mystery, he mumbled to himself,
of love, and took the bourbon from the shelf
and drank to him a tall one, tall."

Gillman
05-30-2013, 10:07
I am glad Tom Sousley is being remembered and in such a warm fashion. I've written about Tim a few times, always with heavy heart, but it lightens when I think of the emotion and memories he has inspired in so many. Part of the animating spirit of SB is due to him, to be sure it is multiform thing, which started with and continues under the sure hand of Jim Butler, but Tim is one of the people who wove an indelible thread in its tapestry. Camaraderie and generosity were the hallmarks, as all have noted here.

Tonight, I will remember Tim with a quiet sip and ponder his many sides, e.g., educator, motorbike enthusiast, sports fan (and indeed a former sportswriter), homeowner, bourbon enthusiast. He was a people guy par excellence, not through an obvious chummy quality (and nothing wrong with that) but more through the force of his unique personality. That he is remembered so fondly by many attests to his special and unique qualities.

Gary

cowdery
05-30-2013, 17:05
In life, you meet a lot of people. I'd say most I've met are good people. It might be a narrow majority, but it's a majority. Some, a much smaller number, touch or impress you positively in some way. And then there is that much smaller number, a handful at most and that's if you live a long time and are lucky, who absolutely knock you out. Tim was one of those. When you got to know him, and I probably didn't know him as well as many others did, the enormity of what he was just overwhelmed you. It's that small number, like Tim, who when you experience them you just automatically want to be a better person yourself.

I try to imagine a world with more Tim Sousleys. It's a shame we lost the one we had so early.

HighHorse
05-30-2013, 19:26
I came to this site late .. too late to have known Tim. I am bowled over by the expressions of all of you guys and .. until tonight .. didn't really know you other than the intelligent to sometimes bellicose albeit enjoyable banter. You guys are the real thing & tonight I'll raise a glass to all of you with absolute appreciation for your stated expressions. Well stated all. Salute!

mosugoji64
05-30-2013, 20:38
I came to this site late .. too late to have known Tim. I am bowled over by the expressions of all of you guys and .. until tonight .. didn't really know you other than the intelligent to sometimes bellicose albeit enjoyable banter. You guys are the real thing & tonight I'll raise a glass to all of you with absolute appreciation for your stated expressions. Well stated all. Salute!

Excellent post. I joined up shortly before Tim's passing and never got to meet him. All of the posts about him here seem to reflect what a profound effect he had on the membership of SB. From what I've seen, you're all doing a great job of carrying on in his spirit. I, too, will raise a glass to Tim and to those who knew him and lost him too soon.

Barrel_Proof
05-31-2013, 07:20
Wonderful words about a wonderful man from a wonderful wordsmith. Posts like this one spin threads that both bind and extend this great community of friends. Thank you, Chuck. Thank you very much.


In life, you meet a lot of people. I'd say most I've met are good people. It might be a narrow majority, but it's a majority. Some, a much smaller number, touch or impress you positively in some way. And then there is that much smaller number, a handful at most and that's if you live a long time and are lucky, who absolutely knock you out. Tim was one of those. When you got to know him, and I probably didn't know him as well as many others did, the enormity of what he was just overwhelmed you. It's that small number, like Tim, who when you experience them you just automatically want to be a better person yourself.

I try to imagine a world with more Tim Sousleys. It's a shame we lost the one we had so early.

ebo
06-02-2013, 09:02
I didn't know Tim other than through through this site. He sent me a few PM's about bourbon I should try and what he thought I might like when I was a new comer to bourbon. He was a big help in getting me started on my bourbon journey.

The way the members of this site speak of Tim, and the fact that he is remembered on this unhappy anniversary is testament to the quality of the man and the members of SB.com.

doubleblank
06-06-2013, 09:31
I too have many memories of Tim and some are downright hilarious. But when Tim got interested in something, he didn't put his toe in the water, he went all in. And that's what he did with his bourbon hobby. Living on a school teacher's salary, Tim acquired quite the collection including some fine old SW bottles.......and he never hesitated to share them with everyone! He came to visit me in Houston in the summer of 2005. He was feeling a little down and just needed a short get away. We had a blast hanging out with my local bourbon posse seen in the pic. Of course, Tim is on the far right. Tim also enjoyed fine wines and that's what we're drinking in the photo while holding some BTEC's we opened later in the evening. He is missed for sure.

TomH
05-28-2014, 23:39
It's 3 years now since we lost Tim....I just poured a glass of ORVW 15/107 to celebrate and remember the last time we were together and shared a bottle (with Tim happily taking home the small remainder left in the bottle).....I'm not good at putting words together as Chuck did so eloquently last year, but I just felt it was appropriate to revive this thread again on the anniversary of his passing in order to remember a friend.

squire
05-28-2014, 23:41
We should all have a drink in his memory, good guy.

camduncan
05-29-2014, 02:35
I had a quiet little toast to Tim at the Sampler last month.... 6 years since we had the great fortune to meet and share a weekend in Bardstown with him. His absence was noticeable.

Gillman
05-29-2014, 05:11
I often think of Tim, he is one of those people who make a mark on your life. I think I've said before it was his selflessness that probably had this result, the willingness to give of himself and whatever he had. In the current expression, he gave much more than he took. People noticed that because in a self-reliant society, often (and nothing wrong with it) the contrary impulses assert themselves. Although I was privileged to visit his home once, I most remember the quiet discussions in the General Nelson motel rooms, he ensconced in a corner except when walking over to the tabletop to discuss a special bottle or something he wanted to point out. And all who knew him will remember him constantly carrying boxes! He had a nice smile too. Special people do live on though via the memories they inspire in others and in a certain way therefore we can still enjoy his company. Thanks to Cliff for mentioning Tim again.

Gary

BourbonJoe
05-29-2014, 08:05
I often think of Tim, he is one of those people who make a mark on your life. I think I've said before it was his selflessness that probably had this result, the willingness to give of himself and whatever he had. In the current expression, he gave much more than he took. People noticed that because in a self-reliant society, often (and nothing wrong with it) the contrary impulses assert themselves. Although I was privileged to visit his home once, I most remember the quiet discussions in the General Nelson motel rooms, he ensconced in a corner except when walking over to the tabletop to discuss a special bottle or something he wanted to point out. And all who knew him will remember him constantly carrying boxes! He had a nice smile too. Special people do live on though via the memories they inspire in others and in a certain way therefore we can still enjoy his company. Thanks to Cliff for mentioning Tim again.

Gary
AMEN.
Joe :usflag:

smokinjoe
05-29-2014, 19:52
Thinking of our buddy that we lost too early, with a pour of the SB.Com HHSS. I'm thinking he would have approved of this barrel selection.

MacinJosh
06-01-2014, 20:13
I never knew Tim, unfortunately, as he passed shortly after I joined. It sounds like he was an amazing man whom many on here considered a close friend.

I can only hope one day I would be remembered so fondly.

I'll have a pour this evening in Tim's honor. May he rest in peace. He is obviously sorely missed.

BourbonJoe
08-29-2014, 18:20
Here is a photo from the 2006 Sampler.
Joe

Gillman
08-29-2014, 18:35
Great picture Joe, thanks for sharing. I often think of him. Here is a story I never shared I believe on the board about Tim. (If I did forgive me, as time passes one forgets sometimes…). I once asked him, "Tim, what is the origin of your surname? It sounds English to me, or Scots". He said, "I don't know, the first one came so long ago. There was something in the family about it being German". I (a friend but not someone super-close), replied, "Tim, I don't think it's German, it sounds English to me, the 'ley' ending in particular". I knew that he wouldn't take offence due to his good nature and intellectual curiosity. I said, "You know, you can check surnames on the Internet, sometimes you get a sense of where they come from". He said, "Really? Why don't you check then". I looked carefully to make sure he really meant it, and said, "Okay, I will". Some months passed and I had forgotten about it, then I saw a post of his online. So I searched a bit and found there was a record of people of this name in northern England in the late 1800's. The next time I saw him at a Gazebo, I mentioned it, and he said, "Cool, maybe it is English after all, thanks for checking". Of course, what I found may neither be here nor there, but he found it of interest because it interested ME. He loved people and was famously generous to a fault, with his time, other resources, everything. We all miss him who were privileged to know him. I always think of Cliff Michel when I think of Tim and many here know why. Cliff, I hope this finds you and your lovely family well. Let's raise a glass in joint memory of our late friend, and I ask all here who knew him to join in.

Gary

squire
08-29-2014, 18:45
I will Gary, I certainly will.

Gillman
08-29-2014, 18:50
Thanks Squire and really sorry you didn't know him, both of you would have enjoyed the other's company.

squire
08-29-2014, 19:01
Got to know him fairly well through pm(s) and phone conversations Gary, enough to call him friend as would just about everyone who knew him I suppose.

Gillman
08-29-2014, 19:09
I didn't know that! Delighted to hear it.

Gary

squire
08-29-2014, 19:12
Reminds me of a Tim story. He and I were talking about dusty hunting in NE MS where it turned out he located a bottle in a store I had already visited. He chided me a bit over the one-upmanship then offered to give it to me which was so Tim.

Barrel_Proof
08-29-2014, 20:47
Wow. Posts like these send a rush of thoughts of this gentle man my children called "Teacher Tim." He loved my kids and they him. Tim would read to them on the couch in L'ville and although quite young at the time, they remember these times fondly. In 2008, Tim accepted my offer to join us in our box in the front row of the upper deck between the mound and third for the last season at Shea Stadium. A former sports reporter, who once covered the Titans' Super Bowl run, Tim had a great time with us for a Mets series that year. Here's an early Gazebo pic of Gary, Tina, Tim and Dave. Damn, I miss him so.

19252


Great picture Joe, thanks for sharing. ... We all miss him who were privileged to know him. I always think of Cliff Michel when I think of Tim and many here know why. Cliff, I hope this finds you and your lovely family well. Let's raise a glass in joint memory of our late friend, and I ask all here who knew him to join in.

Gary

MacinJosh
09-01-2014, 20:40
Wow. Posts like these send a rush of thoughts of this gentle man my children called "Teacher Tim." He loved my kids and they him. Tim would read to them on the couch in L'ville and although quite young at the time, they remember these times fondly. In 2008, Tim accepted my offer to join us in our box in the front row of the upper deck between the mound and third for the last season at Shea Stadium. A former sports reporter, who once covered the Titans' Super Bowl run, Tim had a great time with us for a Mets series that year. Here's an early Gazebo pic of Gary, Tina, Tim and Dave. Damn, I miss him so.

19252

Wow. I know Gary and Dave but I never got the pleasure to meet Tim. Such a damn shame as he sounds like an amazing man. He passed just after I joined. Tom and Dawn tell me stories but it just doesn't cut it. He commented on a few of my very first posts on SB. Wish I had more time to get to know him better.

Cherish those around you lads. You just never know.