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Issue 120 - The Bourbon Affair

Whisky Magazine Issue 120
June 2014


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The Bourbon Affair

Fred makes a plea for the Bourbon community to work together

In the whiskey community, we all sit around and ask: How, when and why did Bourbon take off like it has? Was it the bartenders, the distilleries or brilliant whiskey writing? We have our theories, but nobody really knows and nobody should take complete credit.

At the Kentucky Bourbon Affair organised by the Kentucky Distillers Association, I realised we're only in the beginning of the boom. Whether things slow down in five years or 50, the inaugural event dubbed “fantasy camp for Bourbon drinkers” illustrated just how passionate whiskey enthusiasts are and that was never more evident than at a trash dump.

You read that correctly. A trash dump. The KDA member distilleries (Sazerac is the only major distillery company not a member) were charged with creating special events that would wow consumers. After skeet shooting and a tasting in a rickhouse at the Wild Turkey Distillery, attendees were taken to a barrel graveyard, where used barrels were tossed aside and stacks of staves rotted with tree branches.

It looked like a great place for a snake to hide, but the consumers dove into the graveyard as if it were a gold mine. They were ripping off heads and having master distiller Jimmy Russell sign them. They grabbed thick staves, swollen from rain, with plans to barbecue. One guy was picking up every loose piece of wood he could to build his home bar. All the while, I'm thinking to myself: “Dear god, please no snakes.... Or rats.”

Obviously not concerned with wil...

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