It's Feeling More Like Normal
Four years. While often taken in a presidential context or spoken at a political convention, today marks the four-year anniversary of Joseph Bourbon. Four years ago, with some gentle nudging and help from family members, we put out our first content and the bourbon journey began.
2022 began with a feeling that maybe, just maybe, things might begin returning to normal - albeit the new normal. Just a couple years in the not-too-distant past, we'd soon have a new respect for eating out, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. This past year began differently.
And while none of us were happy with the price at the pump, the interest rates on our loans, or the price of eggs in the refrigerated case, we were all, ever so slightly, beginning to feel normal again. Anxiety wasn't striking every time we entered a crowded store or a restaurant. Many of us began traveling again and continued to invest and reap the rewards of things we learned during The Pandemic - like continuing to get out and enjoy nature, dining outside, along with eating healthier and discovering a new room in our houses that many had not seen before - the kitchen (I'm laughing about that one!).
While the first few months of 2022 were overshadowed with the remnants of COVID and concerns for health, by spring, with the greening of the grass and the flowering fauna, things were slowly returning to normal.
We celebrated the arrival of spring by introducing new friends - now family - to the beautiful grounds and great bourbons being produced at Castle & Key. Fast horses were running again in delight in front of crowded stands filled with vibrantly dressed fans at Keeneland Racetrack.
The spring brought on new education and experiences, as well. I completed the Certified Bourbon Steward program from the Stave & Thief Society. This year, I'm looking forward to adding the Executive Bourbon Steward designation behind my name. We also had a wonderful evening of food and fun, as I led tastings and shared bourbon history for a great local cause. On another evening, we shared similar stories and experiences at a guided tasting at local liquor store.
As the year progressed, we continued to share the history and experiences that only bourbon can offer. My wife took her sister to experience one of our favorite distilleries - the historic Woodford Reserve in Versailles, Kentucky.
Later, we saw that good things come to those who wait. My barrel matured at Maker's Mark and we enjoyed a delightful Ambassador Tour topped-off with a bottle-dipping. With the return of normalcy, many have thronged and returned to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Tickets to the Buffalo Trace Distillery are near-impossible to garner. Once again, though, we were rewarded by waiting. Seeing tickets were unavailable for a special experience, we asked to be wait-listed and were rewarded with an early afternoon Old Taylor Tour.
It was also a time marked with serendipitous enjoyment. Late in the year, we enjoyed a long-delayed rickhouse thieving experience at the Bardstown Bourbon Company. Now, Mrs. Joseph Bourbon always knows that we arrive early for tours and experiences ... and to scope out the gift shop. Imagine my surprise when I saw a tall gentleman pulling bottles off the shelf, signing them, and placing them back on the shelf. It was Master Distiller and Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame member Steve Nally. In addition to a great photo opportunity, we had a private 20 minute conversation about the industry, the products, and their recent acquisition of Green River Distilling. Sometimes, you just get lucky.
Our luck continued throughout the year, allowing us to find a wall of Blanton's at the Buffalo Trace Distillery along with other drops of Weller, as well. Our luck continued finding some exclusive releases for a co-worker (and ourselves). And finding several cases of fine Heaven Hill 7-Year Bottled-in-Bond - at MSRP - at our favorite store.
As 2023 begins, I hope you, too, have begun to sense a little more normalcy - even if it is a new normal. And I hope you continue to find joy in all you do. I know I have enjoyed the last four years immensely, sharing my love for history and America's native spirit. Bourbon's history is America's history. I look forward to seeing all of you out and about and on the trails - whether they're in the city, the woods, or at Kentucky distilleries.
Here’s to more bourbon tales!
In case you missed out, here are some of my favorite posts (in no particular order) from 2022: