July 2013


The few months since my last State of the Savage have been the most tumultuous in a long time. I write to you feverish, on my tenth day of an illness that just last night revealed its true colors. Sick and philosophical is a common state of mind for me, so please forgive any nonsensical ramblings, but I’m stuck thinking about limes and life. I realize this is a single tick away from the “lemons” cliché, but making limeade would be a singularly bad idea (never did taste natural to me). The balance of each day is a pawing in that bowl of green balls hoping for a sweet, juicy fruit. But then there are the dry, mouth-puckering bastards that leave you shaking your head and swearing you’ll never try another one. Inside we smile. Some part of us knows better. Read more...

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Bourbon Flight

I had to restrain myself – many times – while writing my last post about the Jim Beam distillery. I kept veering off into technical definitions of Bourbon so I could lay them against equally technical descriptions of Scotch and thereby highlight the differences between the spiritual cousins. It would have derailed the post and been an injustice to Jim Beam.

But I realized I needed to write about this topic, especially since my aim in going to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was to compare America’s spirit against Scotland’s and highlight the differences for the whisky fans among my readers.

So here it is, a brief guide to the differences between Scotch and Bourbon. Read more...

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Jim Beam Distillery

Half an hour south of Louisville in the lush hills of Clermont, Kentucky stands the multi-million dollar complex that is Jim Beam, the world’s largest producer of Bourbon whiskey. It’s a rainy weekday morning as Sarah and I drive through surprisingly familiar terrain to Jim Beam’s American Stillhouse, which is the site of their craft brand production in addition to some of their flagship Bourbon. Less than a minute into our tour I learn that Jim Beam has multiple sites around Kentucky pumping out 15 million cases of Bourbon each year, but more on that later.

My first impression: This is a different animal from Scotch distilleries, a Brontosaurus stomping along next to iguanas.

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On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in Clermont, Kentucky

When it came time for me to start planning my trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, I was comforted to find that, in many ways, it mirrored Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail. I should clarify. I was a tad naïve on my first pass through the Malt Whisky Trail when, as I drove through Speyside’s green hills, I noticed many distilleries not mentioned as part of the trail. These were not mere oversights; while a nice service to tourists in the region, the Malt Whisky Trail is also a membership program that distilleries must pay into to reap the benefits of the publicity.

And so it is with the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which is a program of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) to promote the Bourbon industry in Kentucky. I mention this upfront so that you understood there are other distilleries in Kentucky that are not officially part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Read more...

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