Although I loved whiskies of various kinds before we moved here to Bluegrass Country, in the past couple of months I've come to enjoy bourbon in particular. A single malt scotch used to be my best bottle, say an Ardberg or Lugavulen, but now my best is a single barrel from Wild Turkey, a liquor that is to my senses like an afternoon in August when distant thunder rolls across the hills.
This place in which I live is bourbon's birthplace and its only true home, the meadows and streams of the Kentucky River ecosystem, where winters are just cold enough to draw the liquor back into the barrel after a long, delirious Kentucky summer.
My father comes to visit me more often in Lexington. His name was Fred Greenwald. He sang me to sleep with Kentucky lullabies, and in my imagination this state was the land of milk and honeysuckle vines. Fred loved the Kentucky of his dreams and he shared those dreams with me, and now here I am in the old home of lullabies, horses, and bourbon.
If you'd like to share in my love affair with this native American whiskey, you need to shun any blended whiskies and avoid the bottom shelf of bourbons. You can make a Manhattan with one of them, I suppose, but why bother? Learn about the difference between single barrel and small batch, either of which is a sure bet, and start to taste.
Take it neat, or on the rocks, or with just a splash of good water. This one has the sweetness of corn. That one the kick of rye. In the best of them, you can taste the soul of the oak wood that makes the barrel and you share in the numinous kindness of those trees. You can taste the magic of a water that seeped its patient way through limestone cracks for one hundred thousand years.
Bourbon is the drink of sexy winter evenings and long summer nights. It wears a tie, but loosens the knot as the hour goes by. Taste it and you long to hear a saxophone, or maybe you hear a saxophone that other people, the people drinking vodka or rum, could never hear.
Listen, I've got a few good bottles here I'd love to share. Stop by anytime and we'll sit on the back porch in the slanted Indian Summer light, and drink to the bluegrass and horses of Kentucky.