My Old Kentucky Bourbon
By: Ben Keeton
Like many people, I first discovered bourbon in college. However, my first experiences weren’t mixing cheap bourbon with coke as a means of providing a little liquid courage at parties. Instead, I opened up a bottle of bourbon when I was feeling homesick for my old Kentucky home.
As a transplant living in Atlanta (with a roommate from New Jersey, nonetheless), I found myself missing my home, a home that until I wasn’t there I didn’t know I loved so much. While I grew up in Louisville, I didn’t know how much I would miss horses, bluegrass, food and music until I moved to the concrete jungle that is Atlanta.
Honestly, I didn’t know much about bourbon until a friend poured me a glass of “the good stuff”. Until then, the liquid portion of my diet usually consisted of the stuff found on the bottom shelves at most liquor stores. The first time I had a premium bourbon (Woodford Reserve, for those keeping score), I was instantly transported back home. It was a nice shot of medicine for somebody feeling a little homesick.
With my newly enhanced palate, I started looking at the bourbon section of the liquor store a little differently. From small batch to single barrel, wheated to rye, I started to better understand the differences and unique properties of the growing list of premium spirits coming out of Kentucky. I also started to be “that guy” on distillery tours, trying to get a better understanding of what makes good bourbon good.
As my love for Kentucky grew, I discovered that bourbon was a great way to spread the gospel about what made the Commonwealth such a special place. From China to Latin America, the Middle East to Europe, I never traveled without a bottle of bourbon for my host. Each bottle and distillery has a unique story that I feel showcases some of Kentucky’s best attributes. It is always a special treat when I can take guests on a distillery tour during their visit to Kentucky.
It might have taken leaving to realize it, but I am incredibly proud of my home state. Our people and culture are second to none, and I’ll tell any willing listener all about what makes Kentucky the best place to live. Of course, it always helps to have an open bottle of bourbon to truly experience Kentucky.