When 2015 began I knew it was going to be great, but I had no idea just how great. I’ve traveled to California, Chicago, Florida, Ohio, and Munich. I’ve attended The Filson’s Bourbon Salons and the Bourbon Barons lecture, The Kentucky Derby Museum’s Legends Series, The Bourbon Classic, The Bourbon Shindig, and many various Whisky Chicks events. There were several times throughout the year when I thought to myself things can’t possibly get any better than this. But they continue to do so, and I expect 2016 to be even more awesome. Until then, here are my 10 favorite stories of 2015, in no particular order:
- Old Taylor Distillery: Return of a Bourbon Land Legend was an amazing story to do. I finally got to meet Master Distiller Marianne Barnes and tour the grounds of the almost lost forever Old Taylor Distillery. They are making great progress and should be opening up this spring.
- Talking Whiskey & Retirement With Four Roses’ Jim Rutledge was a special day for me. If you’ve ever talked to me about how I got started as a whiskey writer, you know Rutledge was the person who lit the spark. I spent almost an entire day with my bourbon hero learning all about his life and how he became one of the most admired people in the bourbon industry.
- Chasing Bourbon Dreams is something we’re all doing each in our own special ways, though I’ve never known anyone to do it quite like Renae Price. After planning her entrance into the bourbon business for a decade, she finally graduated from Moonshine University and went on to distill her first 2 barrels of bourbon at Old Pogue the very next week. I spent the whole day with her at the distillery, which changed the way I will see the distilling business forever.
- Pappy Van Winkle Clan Sets The Bourbon Record Straight gave me the opportunity to sit down with the Van Winkles and straighten out the record. Pappy Van Winkle has become such a huge mythical figure in the bourbon world that people often forget he was a real person whose real family is still in the whiskey business today.
- Freddie Johnson, 3rd Generation Buffalo Trace Man is a story I feel honored to be able to tell. Johnson’s story is so inspiring I couldn’t wait for the interview to end so I could give him a hug. That right there is why I get out of bed in the morning.
- Vendome Makes The Copper Stills That Make Your Bourbon gave me the opportunity to talk to a family that has been in the whiskey business for over a hundred years, though they’ve never made a drop of whiskey themselves. Every time I learn about the whiskey business from a different angle another piece falls into place.
- Bourbon Tourism Is For The Whole Family. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about bourbon tourism. Most people have a vision of rowdy bachelor party types overindulging, though that’s almost never what it looks like in real life.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl