“We are live!”
The text sent chills down my spine. The longtime, tightly held dream came true. My magazine, Bourbon +, was available for subscription. And all the hard work, the risk and my belief that people want in-depth bourbon long-form stories….was about to be tested.
For a decade, I’ve been somebody else’s writer, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities given to me. But I needed to do this, to build my own dream magazine and produce something I believe bourbon lovers want. It’s burned in my belly for a long, long time. And that text gave me butterflies in the same way as when I saw my first article, held Whiskey Women and when Eddie Vedder’s name was next to mine in the Bourbon & Beyond promotions. (Of course, these are professional feelings; nothing beats seeing my wife walk down the aisle or holding my son for the first time.)
Ordinarily, this Bourbon + moment would own my day. So much more happened on July 26, 2018, though, that it was only part of the story.
Earlier in the morning, my “Above the Char” segment debuted on Bourbon Pursuit Podcast. As I’ve become busier, I’ve lost my ability to write edgy blog posts. But I haven’t lost my desire to offer my opinion on things that matter, and that’s what Above the Char offers. It’s a no-holds-barred approach to things that piss me off and or I believe need to be discussed. My first segment covered the growing use of “Cigar” language on labels and in barrel selections.
Of course, neither of my accomplishments were bourbon’s biggest news of the day.
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association organized a meeting between the world’s whiskey-oriented trade associations to fight the tariffs hitting American whiskey. I’ve certainly been vocal on this matter, penning OpEds for the New York Times and the Louisville Courier Journal, as well as speaking out on NPR, CBS This Morning, CNBC and many more. But I am just a writer, and this unified industry voice is far stronger than anything I could ever say.
The KDA’s Eric Gregory and the rest of his staff showed tremendous leadership in organizing this effort with American Craft Spirits Association, Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., Irish Whiskey & Spirits Associations, Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association, Scotch Whisky Association, Spirits Canada, spiritsEUROPE and The Presidents’ Forum. At the Frazier Museum in downtown Louisville, they signed a resolution that will be sent to governments around the world. Whatever happens, every bourbon drinker should “beam” with pride, knowing their beloved spirit’s leaders organized one of the most-important meetings in whiskey history.
As I watched the leaders speak at the press conference, I started pondering how I would celebrate the day. Would I pop open one of my rare 1930s bottles? Perhaps, I’d bust out my latest contemporary favorite, King of Kentucky? Or maybe I’ll kill my last drops of the Maker’s Mark Private Select I did with my good friends and now Bourbon + writers Chuck Cowdery and Lew Bryson?
As I walked Main Street to my car, I saw the popular chocolatier, Art Eatables, and decided to buy my pregnant wife something awesome. Started by Forest and Kelly Ramsey, Art Eatables, like me, found a way to work in bourbon without working for a distillery. Their chocolates are pretty damn amazing, too.
I walked into the store, immediately refreshed by the cool air hitting my sweat-drenched ascot, and salivated for just about everything on the shelf. I could seriously buy and eat their entire store. Well, except their T-shirts… that would hurt.
There was one thing calling me: A fudge-dipped Oreo. It stood about hip-high in a bowl on the edge of a table filled with bourbon truffles, chocolate dipped graham crackers and fleur-de-lis chocolate medallions. “Hey, fatty ascot boy, pick me up,” it said, “eat me.”
And so, entranced by this talking fudge Oreo, it became mine and I stared at it for a good couple minutes, contemplating whether I could calorically afford to eat this fat pill. I sipped some hot coffee, opened the package and took a bite. Oh, the sinful pleasure.
It was also the first time all day that my phone didn’t ring or buzz, and I didn’t feel the need to do anything. I just sat there with a double fudge Oreo, coffee and the sounds of wind chimes in my yard. I looked around, wondering how to celebrate the magazine launch, and I realized this was it: I am doing exactly what I want to do, including hearing a double fudge Oreo.
I’m living the dream.