My tagline promises life, location, and hard liquor, and I’ve leaned fairly heavily on the first two while withholding the last, which, especially in Kentucky, is the height of rudeness. As a corrective measure, I give you “Barrel-Bottom Wisdom,” part the first.
In January, two friends came to visit (bless them) and we went out on the bourbon trail to Maker’s Mark. Bourbon is on a boom, you may have heard, but a trip out to Maker’s gives the impression that this is no typical bubble. While the flavored vodka boom was an abomination and an affront to the Gods of Liquor resulting in the final indignity of something sorbet flavored masquerading as an acceptable beverage for adults, most bourbon is lovingly crafted, and time-consuming. Production simply cannot and will not meet demand, never mind exceed it. All of the Maker’s Mark ever sold is still made in the same place, the very one we toured; the only concession to expansion is a building, visible from the original site, where more barrels can be aged. It is possible, in a day, to see every barrel and bottle of Maker’s and trace their origins, excepting those already in stores. The gift shop also allows guests to hand-dip their own bottle.
The weekend we visited had been a trying one in which our nightmarish roommate allowed our electricity to be shut off through negligence and poor financial planning, then became irate when I insisted on turning it back on myself rather than wait for her to do so at her leisure. When we dipped our bottles, I earmarked mine for our first home together, the one that would truly be ours, that would mark living together as a dedicated project rather than a tetchy experiment. When we moved, it was the very first thing I unpacked, tucked back in the freezer until we were ready.
We opened it this weekend at our housewarming party, where, with the aid of the ever-helpful bourbon, I time-traveled to the life I had envisioned in that moment almost a year ago: a house, with a front porch, and a library, a lit Christmas tree, full of warmth and laughter and friends and family and love, happy and content to be perfectly where we were. You might say that’s not the bourbon, but I will tell you this: the bourbon sure doesn’t hurt.