Kentucky in Review: The Aesthetics of Whiskey

Every now and again I’ll sarcastically challenge the puritanical whiskey drinkers out there to be “all about the quality of the liquid”, mainly because in my mind it’s neither possible nor desirable to be entirely flavor-focused as an aficionado. While it’s romantic to think that discerning drinkers always value quality over beauty, flavor over age statements, and the actual liquid more than the package it comes in, statistics show this reality just isn’t true. Just like studies show that good looking people tend to get treated better in life, and cute puppies get adopted faster than scrappy ones, there’s no denying the biological fact that human beings are influenced by aesthetics. We may not all be drawn to the same visual stimuli, but it would be foolish to believe image doesn’t play a role in how we appreciate pleasure. Whiskey companies are well aware of this phenomenon (at least successful ones are). They know that marketing is half the battle and that—as Wild Turkey recently showed with their new Russell’s Reserve label—keeping the package hip, up-to-date, and aesthetically-pleasing is of the utmost importance.

But it’s no longer just about packaging these days. With whiskey tourism at an all-time high, distilleries are scrambling to capitalize on a new enthusiasm and provide visitors with the best possible experience—most of which involves curation. Most of them are doing a great job. I’ve been to more than seventy different distilleries all over the world and, about 70% of the time, I leave with a positive impression (mainly because everyone treats me really nicely). That being said, there are times when I visit heralded distilleries known for top-quality booze and I leave a bit disappointed—usually because of what I experienced visually. While I’m indeed a trained (and paid) whiskey professional, there to learn all the production details and processes as to better sell the products in my stores, I’m still a customer at heart. I’m visiting for business, but also because of my love and enthusiasm for alcohol. Most customers, in my opinion, choose to visit a distillery based on their love for that particular distillery’s products. They’re hoping to reinforce an already positive association with a positive first-hand experience (like when people meet celebrities and say, “He was as nice as he appears on TV!”). It’s the reason that Brown-Forman wants you to visit the pristine fermentation room at Woodford Reserve: because it’s clean and well-designed. It’s also the reason they make sure you don’t go anywhere near the one at Early Times: because it probably isn’t. And I don’t blame them one bit.

When you visit a whiskey distillery, you’ll almost always see the inside of one warehouse and one warehouse only. They’ll tell you it’s for safety reasons (which it very well may be), or health codes, or something like that, but it’s really because they only have one warehouse that’s been cleaned and readied for guests. Whiskey conspiracists like to think access is restricted at distilleries because these companies don’t want you to know what’s really going on (wink, wink), but ultimately the reason they don’t let the public into the other warehouses is because they’re often filthy, infiltrated by cobwebs and spiders, and musty or dank. It’s the same reason beef companies don’t advertise tours of the slaughterhouse—they don’t want anyone to potentially lose their appetite. Controlling one’s image is an important tool in the business world and by doing so it doesn’t necessarily mean a brand is being dishonest about its practices. It may simply imply that they care about aesthetics. For example, if you come over to my house for drinks, we’re going to hangout in my living room because that’s the room I’ve decorated and cleaned before your arrival, and I want to make a good impression when you visit. However, I’m not going to let you into my bedroom—even if you beg me to show it to you—because it’s usually a mess and I don’t want you to see my dirty underwear lying on the floor everywhere. I’m not hiding anything. I just don’t want you to think I’m a slob.

Of course, in today’s whiskey market where everyone’s an expert there’s a tendency to think anything with a fancy package is likely a scam—like putting a shiny red ribbon on a steaming piece of shit. That can be true at times (I can think of a few terrible products with great packaging), but celebrating the inherent beauty of anything doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of quality (just like people can be both handsome and intelligent). Maker’s Mark, for example, has a breathtaking campus, complete with access to the old Samuels house that has been impeccably kept up to look like its original condition. The rooms are beautiful and decorated with much of the original furniture from the era. I know people who think extra exhibits like these at a distillery constitute as whiskey Disneyland, but I have to ask in response: if you’re a historic Bourbon producer with a legacy of greatness, why not celebrate that authentic history and present it to potential customers when they visit? The story of Maker’s Mark, in my opinion, is inseparable from the flavor of the whiskey itself. Visiting the site and seeing that heritage in person only further links those two important connections in my mind. That’s not marketing fluff in my opinion—it’s all part of aesthetic curation. Pardon my French, but it’s fucking smart.

The construction currently happening at the once-abandoned Old Taylor distillery is finally coming along, and by simply driving up to the front gate you can see where the attention is being focused. When we visited the old site a few years ago, we were hopping fences, dodging pot holes, and trying to avoid getting tetanus. Today the newly-revamped buildings are scheduled for opening in spring of 2016, despite the fact that we didn’t see any equipment installed in the main center, nor did the framework look anywhere near complete. What did look fantastic, however, were the distillery grounds, refurbished with new windows and landscaped with new lawns in the outside garden. It was an incredible transformation in just the span of two years and it’s clear that the new owners are thinking far beyond the simple quality of the whiskey they plan to produce. They’re getting ready for a full-fledged tourist attraction and, with a distillery that beautiful, who can blame them?

With the reverence today’s drinkers have for their favorite whisky distilleries—many of whom are making pilgrimages to worship at these hallowed grounds—it’s no wonder that today’s houses of distillation have turned into far more than simple places of production. Distilleries have become temples for the faithful, a beacon for those who believe, and as many of us experienced on our first trips through old Europe: the most beautiful buildings in the world are often churches. It therefore makes sense for brands to begin treating them as such—to give their flocks of followers the communion they’re searching for. Distilleries today are taking pride in their places of work, shining up their stills, and even commissioning art work to add aesthetic beauty in the most-unique of places. Maker’s Mark, for example, hired a Seattle glassblower to create an exhibit in the ceiling of their main warehouse. The light pours in from above, illuminating various hues down to the floor below. It’s the Kentucky distillery version of a stained-glass window—a kaleidoscope of church color in the midst of the Angel’s share.

What does the presentation of modern art have to do with whiskey, some may ask? Everything, actually. Art is the physical manifestation of passion and inspiration. If nothing else, the modern aesthetics of whiskey are simply a sign that, more than ever, people actually care about what they’re drinking—to the point that they’re willing to create something beautiful to celebrate that love. You can scoff at that if you want to, but true passion isn’t the result of a singular focus. Flavor freaks are like savants, in my opinion—they’re brilliant, but often off-putting and aloof because they fail to grasp life’s larger meanings. Appreciation, on the other hand, is more like faith: it takes many forms.

-David Driscoll


Kentucky 2015 – Day 4: New Lessons, New Perspectives

In all our years traveling together on the road, David and I realized recently that we'd never actually visited a full-scale cooperage. We've seen a barrel or two being formed, and I'd seen the charring on site at Kavalan last year, but those operations are small potatoes next to something like Brown-Forman's Louisville center. The family-owned company is the only major whiskey producer to use barrels made entirely by their own cooperage production, and when you think about how many bottles of Jack Daniels they're selling per year, the number of casks they produce annually is in the millions. The Louisville site alone does more than 500,000.

No matter how many times you've been to a distillery, no matter how many tours you've particpated in, you always learn something new when you visit a producer (which is why I always let them go through the whole general routine rather than try to dictate the program like some pompous ass who thinks he knows everything). I guess I always thought "seasoned" staves meant the planks were toasted or dusted with cinnamon and spice (not really), but seasoning a stave means you just leave it outside for a while. Literally. You just put the wood outside and let the natural elements breakdown some of the structure of the stave. This massive load of palletized and seasoned staves will last the Brown-Forman center only until the end of today's shift. There's a whole lotta cooperin' going on in these here parts.

If you've never watched a Bourbon barrel being formed (either on video or in person), I'd highly recommend taking the tour through a cooperage site, just to have an appreciation for the art. There are no nails and there's no glue. It's all form, pressure, and proper hoop work.

And don't forget the charring! Bourbon must be aged in new charred oak by law, so there's a whole lotta charrin' going on in these parts to boot.

Since David and I were trying for a new set of experiences today, hoping to visit some fresh faces and learn more about the industry, we drove out to Woodford Reserve to take a tour of the distillery. We were early, however, and since Versailles isn't all that far from Lawrenceburg, we thought we'd drop by the Kickin' Chicken to see what was happening. I love their new tag line because it pretty much sums up the way we feel about Wild Turkey whiskey at K&L. It never gets old, and it's always good. I still think Wild Turkey is an incredibly underappreciated Bourbon among the geekier crowd.

And look who was there to greet us! Our old pal Jimmy Russell, the legendary 81 year old master distiller who's still fresh as a spring chicken (or turkey, I guess). He wanted us to taste his new 17 year old Master's Keep, a pricey but undoubtedly delicious new Bourbon just released by the distillery. We loved it, but I thought maybe a few serious afficionados might find it too soft at 43%. Being the oldest whiskey ever released by Wild Turkey, it's definitely on the smooth side, but utterly mellow and easy-going with a long, creamy finish. "There's a reason for all that," Jimmy told us as we tasted. Then he told us the story behind the casks. All of a sudden we got much more excited. I even called my rep from Wild Turkey and had her order a bunch of extra cases (you might even see these pop up today if you check the website later—the box and bottle are stunning, some of the best packaging yet in the Bourbon industry).

I don't want to ruin the story before we actually start selling the product, but it involves this little place along McCracken Pike—the former Old Taylor distillery—long abandoned, but recently purchased by a new investment group who is currently remodeling the site. We stopped by to check up on the progress.

And it involves this building nearby. I was trying to figure out why the label said: "1. Wood, 2. Stone, 3. Wood". Now I know. Turns out 43.4% is pretty much cask strength in the case of this particular whiskey. More on that later.

I probably know less about Woodford Reserve as a whiskey than any other product we carry. I never drink it. We don't sell a whole lot of it. The last time I tasted it before today was probably five years ago. It's just that flat little flask-shaped bottle that people buy in the store from time-to-time—nothing more. That being said, I can't stress to everyone out there enough how important it is to visit some of these big-brand distilleries. Many of the assumptions you have about their production methods and philosophies might be more inline with your own than you think. I thought our tour today of the Woodford campus was fantastic and it really endeared me to the whiskey in a way that had been completely absent previously. Much like Maker's Mark, I think you'll find that Woodford looks and feels like what you expect from the Kentucky Bourbon experience. Minus the giant pot stills, of course. Woodford makes whiskey more like Redbreast or Glenmorangie, than it does your standard Bourbon plant.

Sure, Woodford Reserve is made on Scottish-style pot stills, but it's also blended with column still Bourbon from Brown-Forman's Shively-based distillery before bottling. The corn/rye/barley mash is cooked and fermented just like at any other distillery, but what's interesting is that the liquid is then distilled with all the solids still inside. It's triple-distiled much like an Irish whiskey, then put into new charred oak like Bourbon. 

What's perhaps even more interesting than Woodford Reserve's whiskey process is the history of the location itself. Brown-Forman can trace distillation at the Woodford site back to tax records from 1812 when Elijah Pepper founded his distillery there. His son Oscar Pepper eventually took over the reigns and was one of the first people to employ a master distiller, in this case a man named Dr. James Crow (you might recognize him from the latter half of the name Old Crow). Dr. Crow was one of the great pioneers of the Bourbon industry, utilizing science and laboratory efforts to create better whiskey. His papers on charring the inside of the oak cask and using the spent mash to help start new fermentation (or the sour mash process) were revolutionary in their day and helped shape the nature of what Bourbon is today. To think this all happened right here, in those very buildings, is pretty cool. Another interesting aside is that Brown-Forman actually owned the distillery previously during WWII, but sold it off when the industry died in the late fifties. They bought it back in the early nineties and released the first bottle of Woodford Reserve in 1996—so it's a fairly new brand in Bourbon context.

I also quite enjoyed the overall perspective of the whiskey process we were presented with at Woodford, all the way from barrel dumping and charcoal filtration, to batch creation and blending. They were incredibly hospitable and transparent from front to back. I was really impressed by their professionalism on all levels.

Back in Louisville later this afternoon, we finally convinced Heaven Hill to let us into thier Bernheim plant, which is the opposite of Woodford Reserve in every way imaginable. Bernheim is a gigantic factory forged of metal and steel with chain link fences and grated floors. They have almost twenty 124,000 gallon fermenters that dwarf anything we've ever seen, and mash tons that have huge propellers turning with flabbergasting force. It's one humongous operation!

The two massive missiles they have for column stills span multiple floors and rise out of the bowels like industrial motifs of power and force. I felt like I should have been counting down for lift off!

After a great visit with Phil at Bernheim (the guy has moonshining stories galore!) we drove the couple miles down to Shively to see if we could sneak a peak at the Early Time distillery. Brown-Forman does not allow anyone into the location, but I thought I might be able to convince the security guard I had priority access. No dice. It's not a place they want anyone to visit, nor to find either. The gated entrance is at the end of a long driveway off the main road that you'd never notice if you weren't looking exactly for it. 

In all honesty, I'd seen enough for the day so I wasn't too disappointed. I needed a cold beer at that point.

-David Driscoll


Kentucky 2015 – Day 3: Louisville Sights

Despite the fact that they've built this gigantic "Fourth Street Live" pedestrian zone downtown, with a Jim Beam experience (and even a rectifying still inside that spot where you can bottle your own whiskey), there's not one Louisville native hanging out in the area. It's the Times Square or the Fisherman's Wharf of the city—a place to spot tourists buying T-Shirts or living it up in what they believe to be a very Louisvillian manner. East of downtown, however, running parallel to the Ohio River is where things begin to interesting.

Moving north of Main Street towards an older neighborhood once known as Butchertown, the homes are incredibly diverse. It's an area that seems to be attracting a younger crowd, looking to rejuvenate a little Louisville magic from the historic setting, rather than buy that flashy new track home outside of town.

Trim the trees and tidy up the iron work a bit, and you could be walking through the West Village along the Hudson, or parts of Williamsburg, but with a slightly Victorian edge at times.

Old brick warehouse spaces are being remodeled and turned into modern businesses. It's the Meatpacking area of Manhattan (Butchertown, right), but with more of an Americana feel.

Cut over south of Main to Market Street and you'll find the Garage Bar, an outside/inside beer lounge, cocktail joint, and wood-fired oven pizza place built into an old filling station.

Grab a drink, grab a seat, and take in the warm Autumn evening.

Just like Una Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, they've got the Cadillac of pizza ovens—flown in from Naples and hand-assembled here in the kitchen.

This is what heaven looks and tastes like.

-David Driscoll


Kentucky 2015 – Day 3: Loretto to Clermont

Loretto, Kentucky is not a large town. It's a small community of about 900 people, twenty percent of which are employed by Maker's Mark distillery. Getting there takes about an hour and a half from Louisville, as you drive south through Bardstown and further out into the remote country side.

Loretto is remote, but beautiful. You can see why the Samuels family chose to buy the old distillery site back in the early fifties. It not only sits near a twelve acre lake of clean, mineral-rich Kentucky water, but it's also one of the most picturesque and bucolic sceneries on the entire Bourbon trail. Getting out of the car on an early Fall morning, taking in the vast landscape before us, was quite inspirational and moving.

If you don't think fashion applies to the world of wine and distilled spirits, we probably won't ever see eye-to-eye on a good many things. A line has most definitely been drawn in the sand when it comes to "cool" Bourbons and "uncool" Bourbons in the modern era of boutique whiskey. Buffalo Trace, Four Roses and Heaven Hill are definitely the cool kids, their whiskies hoarded like old 45-rpm Smiths singles, while distilleries like Beam and Maker's Mark are seen as rather square and for the unsophisticated crowd. Having now been to all five of those distilleries and tasted through a good majority of their selections, I definitely take issue with that stereotypical classification. 

Maker's Mark is absolutely the most beautiful distillery in all of Kentucky—and it's not even close for second place. The campus is simply breathtaking with it's stark black buildings accented with red shutters and shingling. Apparently when Mr. Samuels took over the distillery in 1954 he focused 100% of his time to making a superior whiskey (as he should have). His wife, however (much like my own), had the gift of aesthetics and realized that the distillery needed to look both inviting and pleasing to potential visitors, and she did most of the interior and exterior decorating herself. If you've never been to Kentucky and you have a romantic ideal in your mind of what a distillery should look like, I can promise you it looks like Maker's Mark. As for the other ones, well....they're....nice, I guess.

The distillery building itself at Maker's Mark is quite a spectacle. It's an old wooden house with several stills that go up through the ceilings of several uneven floors. It's so old-timey and down-home that you almost think it's fake—like some sort of fabricated Bourbon Disneyland. Not the case, however. It's actually that fucking quaint, if you can believe it.

The first copper still awaits you right as you enter the door, the creaky wooden stairs just to your left. The distillery has seen a lot of expansion over the last year with the addition of a third still behind the original two, and a set of new fermenters next door. If you're confused as to why Maker's Mark went from the minor scandal of lowering their proof a few years back, to releasing a new cask strength edition only one year later, I can answer any lingering questions with one small word: Suntory. If you're out of the loop, Suntory merged with Jim Beam last year to form a serious spirits conglomerate on the level of Diageo and Pernod-Ricard. Suddenly, after a serious influx of Japanese cash, Maker's Mark wasn't quite so worried about stretching out their inventory to maximize profit. They could go right back to making the best damn Bourbon they could, regardless of capitalistic necessity. That was a great thing for whiskey lovers, believe me. I'm not at all bitter about the retraction. For me personally, there's been no better addition to the Bourbon market over the last few years than the Maker's Mark Cask Strength Edition. That never would have happened without the merger.

I wish I had time to go over the entire tour with you here because it was indeed one of the more succinct and explanatory visits to a distillery I've ever had. I came to Maker's Mark a fan of their whiskey and I left an utter devotee. We tasted the freshly-milled wheat powder, the initial cook of the grist, and the freshly-fermented mash right before it came out of the fermenter and was readied for distillation. The mealy-substance was sweet and delicious, and you could tell that it was clean and purely-flavored just by dipping your finger in it. As we sat down for our experimental tasting of the Maker's 46 single cask selections, I could still taste that freshness in all of the whiskies. 

As I watched an army of red wax-covered bottles come off the bottling line this morning, I had a completely different view of the brand. Maker's Mark really was a pioneer in the production of serious Bourbon of the utmost quality when it first started sixty years ago. Today, with the partnership it has formed with Suntory, I get the feeling the distillery workers are incredibly relieved—like they feel they can finally get back to doing what they do best, without worrying about how to maintain max profitability. There's definitely a newly-renewed focus on superior flavor and there's no better example of that than the recent cask strength release. Except for maybe the new Maker's 46 cask strength. It's really, really good.

After grabbing lunch at the nearby cafe, we headed back north through Bardstown to Clermont, the home of Jim Beam's main distillery, although not nearly their largest (the Boston plant known as the Booker Noe site is apparently twice as big). We had a date to select a few casks directly from the warehouse this afternoon.

There to help us pop a few bungs was the man himself: Fred Noe. I had never met him until today and, let me tell you, he is a complete madman. He's definitely a guy I'd like to grab a few beers with. F-bombs galore and a hilariously-salty vocabulary that could make a sailor blush. We felt right at home with Fred.

I'm actually a big fan of the Knob Creek 120 proof single barrel expression, so I was more than excited to pick out a few potential selections for K&L. Fred doesn't mess around either. He's all business in that warehouse, except when he's cursing. He dropped his iPhone at one point, and grumbled, "I hope that fucker falls right through the cracks and goes straight to hell!" I don't think Fred is a fan of modern technology. I could have spent all day with this guy, just listening to the hilarious comments right and left.

As a distillery, the Clermont site is absolutely gigantic in comparison to its other bretheren. Beam has more than 1.8 millions casks in warehouse at the moment. They make 50% of all the Bourbon in Kentucky. Their monstrous stills pump out Bourbon like an oil rig in the arctic. It's quite impressive to watch first-hand.

On your way out of the distillery there's an old placard with Jim Beam standing on Michigan Avenue next to a few colleagues. I got a kick out of the "yet moderately priced" tag. It's still true today, however. Their products are still great values in the current market.

Two pizzas and five beers later, David OG and I realized we'd been hanging out in the wrong part of Louisville. The Garage Bar on the eastern side of downtown is definitely the spot, and the up and coming Butchertown neighborhood is like the Brooklyn of Kentucky. I could write an entire blog post just about this place (and maybe I will later). One of the best pizzas I've ever had—anywhere, and just a super cool scene that proves the global food and drink movement is on the up just about everywhere. I was blown away.

-David Driscoll


Kentucky 2015 – Day 2: Down to Business

As we walked into the Four Roses barrel and bottling center this morning (Cox's Creek, as it's called) located outside of Bardstown, there was already a dozen barrels lined up and ready to taste. I had emailed tasting coordinator Mandy Vance ahead of time, told her what we were interested in, and she had readied a rock solid supply of the choicest barrels available. I had tested my pull a bit already, requesting a few particular recipes and age statements in advance, but still I asked her for one more favor before we arrived: could we bring a third friend with us?

Not only was Mandy happy to ready the tasting area, set out glassware, and grab a bag of tortilla chips to snack on while we sampled the goods (because she's simply awesome in every way), she was more than happy to oblige my request. I saw her face light up when our third tasting partner walked into the room.

Normally Mandy would be the one popping bungs, dipping the whiskey thief, and filling our glasses with delicious Four Roses Bourbon, but we told her our friend was a pro; we should let him do the dirty work. He didn't waste any time either. He instantly hit the barrels, sending that receiver deep into the depths of each cask, pulling out that brown elixir by the glassful. Who was this mystery man, you ask?

None other than former Four Roses master distiller himself, Jim Rutledge. Who better to taste barrel samples with than the man who actually made the whiskey? Yes, Jim is indeed retired these days, but that doesn't mean he isn't itching to get back into that distillery. Jim is one of those guys who lives for his job and doesn't like to sit still, idling his free time away with comfort and tranquility. I think he's restless in retirement (maybe that should be the name of the sequel to Sleepless in Seattle?) and I'm pretty sure he was more excited to be there than we were.

There was a lot of whiskey to be tasted, so there was no time for fooling around—despite the fact I was giddy about hanging out with Jim again. We ploughed through a serious line-up of casks that were far better than I expected. We nabbed two 11+ year old beauties (unknowingly at first because we chose them blindly) and a number of incredible nine year olds. There was a lot of variety on the table—spicy ones, rich ones, lighter ones, and decadent ones. It was overwhelming because I liked them all for different reasons.

While some might enjoy tasting with an expert like Jim because of his guidance, I actually appreciate the contrast he provides me with. His favorites are rarely mine, and he'll tend to find brilliance in a whiskey I've hastily skipped over. I find myself going back in for a second opinion after he gives his assessment, wondering if I've missed something. Even if I don't actually arrive at his appraisal in the end, I like trying to see things from his perspective. Jim's background in the industry is so different from most other Bourbon distillers, having worked for the Bronfmans most of his career. As a blended whiskey company, Seagram required its distillers to have an incredible working knowledge of a variety of whiskey styles, and Jim was often tasked with creating component flavors rather than singular entities. As Seagram began to shut down various distilleries in Kentucky, such as the Calvert site in Louisville near Churchill Downs, they relied on Jim's talent and scientific knowledge to recreate those necessary styles at Four Roses instead. It's from that history that the company's ten different distillates originate (LDI/MGP is also a former Seagram distillery, for those interested in the subject).

After we finished tasting, the three of us took a stroll through the rest of the bottling site and met some of the other Four Roses staff. They absolutely adore Jim and you could tell they were genuinely happy to see him. Again, I think most of the pleasure was on his end. We let him do his thing while we coordinated lunch plans.

We took Jim out for an absolutely crazy lunch at Mammy's in Bardstown—recently voted the number one small town in the United States. It was just nuts. People were dancing on chairs, listening to loud music, and just getting wild. You should've seen my side dish of tater tots! In all seriousness, we had a great time catching up with Jim, talking about whiskey, and just gleaning a bit of his incredible depth of experience. As an aside, it was good to hear that Four Roses is still not using GMO corn, opting to pay its farmers, and the farmers surrounding its farmers (to prevent cross-pollination), not to make the switch to Monsanto. That makes fifty-five straight years of good old, 100% natural Indiana corn for Four Roses. Kudos to them.

After a great first half of the day with Jim, we drove on over to Heaven Hill to meet our buddy Rob Hutchins in the Bardstown warehouses. We were interested in tasting a few Bernheim samples as it's a whiskey we've never tasted directly from cask. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, Heaven Hill's Bernheim label (named after the Louisville distillery) is a wheat whiskey. Not a wheated Bourbon, like Weller or Maker's Mark, but rather a genuine wheat whiskey—as in a mashbill consisting of 51% wheat, 38% corn, and 11% malted barley. 

Tasting the Bernheim out of barrel was a completely different experience than from the bottle. The liquid is dark and deep in color with a spiciness that simply explodes on the palate. We might have a couple contenders from this lot.

As we left Bardstown I spotted this huge hawk in the sky, circling over the warehouses, swooping between the buildings, looking for prey.

"That's us right now," I said to David. "We're like two hawks, scouring the Kentucky landscape for Bourbon barrels, in search of a kill."

"I'm thirsty," he said.

-David Driscoll