. . . from a Tennesseean transplanted to the Big Island. I've been drinking whiskey for over 40 years in a rather unfocused and negligent manner. For many years Jack Daniel's was my benchmark whiskey, and there seemed no reason to vary much off the beaten path. When I was a youngster, Jack Black was 90 proof. It fell to 86 and then recently to 80. Well, if I want to water down my whiskey I'll do it myself. So I jumped ship to Maker's Mark. (I'd probably have shifted to George Dickel, but it's not readily available here). I was happily drinking this easy-going bourbon (MM) when a friend and transplanted Kentuckian gave me a bottle of Pappy Van Winkel's Family Reserve (20 years old), another of Four Roses Single Barrel, and yet another of Woodford Reserve Four Grain. In drinking these whiskeys, it is fair to say I have exprienced an epiphany.
Earlier this month I was in Tennessee to see my daughter graduate from college. I took the opportunity to visit the very friend, now living back in Kentucky, who a few months ago gave me the extraordinary whiskeys mentioned above. We drove from Somerset up to Frankfort and visited the Buffalo Trace distillery, doing the normal tour and then the so-called "hard hat" tour through the plant. What a gratifying and fascinating experience, made even more memorable in that I was celebrating my 60th birthday the same day BT was rolling out its 6 millionth barrel of new whiskey. We celebrated with them, although the "taste" of Buffalo Trace whiskey they provided us was on the small side. Really small. Disgracefully small.
While it should be evident I can lay no claim to expertise in bourbon whiskey, I now dare to call myself an enthusiast. It is as such that I look forward to sharing experiences with you. I've much to learn and some lost ground to make up.