Welcome to the K&L year end awards. A place where there will be no best Bourbon or best single malt. No best gin. No top tequila. There will be praise, but only praise that you can use and put to work. No talk about the best whiskies you can't get. No retrospective about the Pappy 15 Boilermaker with a Westvleteren base we enjoyed at our recent K&L party (by the way, we had 5,000 calls for this beer today - made Pappy look like a walk in the park). No photo montage of me pouring Weller Larue down Kyle's pants while he dumps Sazerac 18 into David OG's mouth. That would be sick and twisted.
Would that really be very helpful? To rub our excessive behavior in your face? To talk proudly and loudly about bottles you can no longer get? To make you wish you would have acted faster? No, that's not what we're looking to do.
Nevertheless, we still want to celebrate the year that was 2012. We want to leave a statement that helps to summarize the last 365 days of booze business.
Want to know who the best, most passionate, friendliest, most talented, amazing, inspiring person in the booze business is for 2012? Jim Rutledge.
This guy did a detailed and informative K&L podcast. He talked candidly about the midwest drought. He told us how good the 2012 Small Batch would be and it actually exceeded his hype. He hosted a group of K&L customers at the drop of a hat, coming in on his day off to personally offer a tour of the distillery for people he had never met. He continues to email K&L customers who have Bourbon questions, not only about his whiskies, but also about other distilleries. He is patient. Helpful. Passionate. Humble. Determined. Skillful. Amazing.
If you've never given the Four Roses Bourbons a chance, you might want to do so. The Yellow Label, Small Batch, and Single Barrel are among the finest American whiskies available and Jim continues to openly discuss the specifics of each one. There are no tricks with Jim Rutledge. No condescension. No pedantry. Only openness and humility.
I don't know anyone who is this committed. I like to think that I'm pretty accessible, but I'm just a retail spirits buyer, not a famous whiskey distiller. Jim Rutledge is the coolest, most experienced, friendliest, and down-to-earth person I have ever met in this industry. You want to know where your money is going when you purchase a Four Roses whiskey? It's going to this man and his amazing empire that is starting unfold before us - one based on respect for the craft and for the customer.
Make no mistake. Four Roses will be the best Bourbon in America before 2013 comes to an end and Jim Rutledge will have made that happen.
He's that good. He's that amazing. He deserves high praise and all of the admiration we can give him. Best person in the industry for 2012 is good ole JR.