On another (non-bourbon) forum I read regularly, folks often post ‘trip reports’ about trips they’ve taken and experiences they’ve had. After this weekend, I decided to do one here, if for no other reason than to share good memories with other folks who enjoy bourbon and occasionally hunting for bourbon in those nooks and crannies across this great country.
This past weekend I did a quick toad trip to Rogersville, Alabama to support a friend of mine. This trek took me through North Central Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
In the past, I have been one of those efficient travel snobs. You know, the one who incorporates gasoline fill up, restroom break and snack time into a single stop. And while I never looked to break any land speed records, I did attempt to maintain a steady, safe, if slightly illegal speed in order to arrive to my destination in a timely manner.
But this time I resolved to take my time and enjoy the trip, making stops along the way if I felt like it. So as I drove north on 75 into Georgia, I noticed a few billboards advertising package stores. It occurred to me that if a store has invested enough money to rent a billboard, then they probably have a pretty good inventory.
I made two stops in middle Georgia at two very different stores. The first store was a rather small store, but filled to the brim with inventory. These guys had pretty much everything! The only problem was that their arrangement wasn’t exactly done in an efficient manner. Most of the bourbon was in the bourbon section, but I also found some with the cognac and some in the middle of the vodka section. While a pain at first, it actually kind of made it more fun to ‘hunt’ throughout the store. And while there, I stumbled upon the first real dusty bottles I’ve seen in a store. It was a bunch of Old Grand Dad BIB 1.75 liter bottles that looked like the one below. The only difference is the one on the picture is the 86 proof.
They were old enough to still have the tax strips on top, but I couldn’t gather any other information from the bottles to get an exact date.
I roamed around the store for 30 minutes or so, making sure I scoped out the entire place for any misplaced bottles of bourbon. I passed on the OGD bottles this time, as I may be heading back that direction again soon.
25 miles up the road, I made another stop at a store I learned about via billboard. This store was very different, and a very new experience for me. First of all, the place was enormous and looked to be a really new building. The parking lot was huge, there was a Drive-Thru, and it was a well-lit area - quite a contrast to my previous stop. I walked in and was greeted by something I had not yet experienced in a package sore before – attractive women employees. Nothing against most of the kind folks who work in my favorite stores, but they're mostly men. And not the most attractive guys, at that. And yes, that is women - plural.
The inside of the store reminded me of a Sam’s or Costco – high ceilings, well-lit, wide aisles, etc. The bourbon section was well stocked with a few choices I have not yet seen in Florida. I was tempted by the Wathen’s and Black Maple Hill, but found one bottle of Old Weller Antique 107 and decided I couldn’t pass that one up.
In summary, it was fun finding these two oases on the road. I’ve traveled that route dozens of times over the years and had never taken the time to stop, and I’m glad I finally did.