Please note: These thoughts are my own. I’m not an employee or representative of Wild Turkey Distilling Co. or its parent company, Campari.
It doesn’t happen frequently, but I’ll admit, I’ve struggled writing over the last few days. The weight of our current situation … it’s heartbreaking. Writing critically about a pour of bourbon – seems almost irrelevant. I made an attempt – more than one (hell, more than several) – I just couldn’t find my footing. So, I decided I’d share my thoughts. They aren’t political or incendiary; they aren’t flippant or self-righteous. I don’t have the answers and would never pretend to. My thoughts will, naturally, involve whiskey, and as such I’ll do my best to focus on positives.
When I first explored whiskey enthusiasm, I learned early on (occasionally the hard way) that checking one’s political and religious beliefs (or non beliefs) at the door proved sound practice. Doing so didn’t mean these matters weren’t important or worthy of discussion. It was simply an acknowledgment that it wasn’t the proper forum.
The crux of our hobby hinges on fellowship and sharing. Without both, we’re left with shelves of fancy bottles. We can’t fellowship or share, much less focus on the essence of the spirit, if we’re butting heads on political or philosophical issues. Whiskey enthusiasm thrives on bonding; furthermore, bonding over the spirit often translates to bonding in spirit. So much so, that when real life does creep in, you’re more understanding – at the very least, more respectful of others’ points of view.
But this isn’t political. This isn’t religious.
There is no room for hatred or bigotry in our hobby. Thankfully, from what I’ve seen the grand majority of whiskey enthusiasts feel the same way. I only wish it for the world. Yet as small as it may be, we set an example. Our numbers are growing, and with it, an opportunity to harbor greater diversity. If we continue to fellowship and share, if we’re kind and compassionate, we’ll maintain a community where everyone cares and stands together. We’ll respect each other as we do now – possibly more so in light of current events. At least that’s my hope.
I apologize if this isn’t the content you were expecting today. My mind is heavy and saddened for a country that can’t seem to get its act together. But I promise I’ll press onward and endeavor for creativity in the days and weeks ahead.
I’m grateful to be part of a community that’s respectful and courteous, one that’s attentive and gives back. (Speaking of which, Chris Montana could use your help.) I’m grateful to have supporters that are thoughtful and engaging, generous and open-minded. Most of all, I’m grateful that the only thing we’re judgmental of is booze. Much like Jimmy Russell “holding court” (as Eddie likes to say) in Wild Turkey’s Visitor Center, all are welcome. Jimmy doesn’t care what you look like or where you come from, he’s just thankful to have you there. He’s thankful you appreciate his passion for bourbon.
I’m looking forward to the day Jimmy can hold court again. Let’s all do our part to make that happen. Please be kind to one another. Please respect others’ emotions and property. Stay healthy and safe. And perhaps most importantly, let’s all make it our goal to listen. dj
Photo by Victor Sizemore.
I think this is the perfect sentiment for the day. Thanks for writing this now, as hard as it must have been. Not much into looking at social media these days, even at whiskey enthusiast sites. But this caught my eye and glad i read it.
Thank you, Kelly.
Appreciate this. Kentucky has a complex history (as much of our country does) when it comes to race and class and I take comfort knowing that over a glass of bourbon I’ve had many a deep discussion with folks about the myriad ways in which white and black working people are so much more alike than we are different, no matter what folks in power want us to believe.
No. This is this epitome of a entity/brand wanting to post something filled with empathy to garner affection and maintain their viewership, whether you work for them or not.
To start, it is clear you are white (fine, okay, nothing wrong with that), but nowhere in your statement did you once mention black people, or minorities of any kind. How can you “set an example” (as you say) like that? State something to be clear that you support people of all colors, not just “set an example” (of what?). It is not hard. It is not deleterious to your simple blog to make a clear statement.
“The crux of our hobby hinges on fellowship and sharing. Without both, we’re left with shelves of fancy bottles.” – Tell me, have you shared glasses and bottles with people of color? Do you have photos to prove it? So far, all you have shown on your blog is you (white) with many others of white complexion drinking whiskey. In the future, involve others.
While I’m not calling out any names, but think about the conversation you have started with your community. You say “that they are that are thoughtful and engaging, generous and open-minded.”
All of this sounds tone deaf, privileged, and ignorant. The fact that you say this isn’t the “proper forum” shows that you have an opinion but don’t want anyone to face you here on it. You created a forum, so be ready for anyone to express anything they want – that’s sort of the whole point.
I promise you that Jimmy, and others, DO care what you look like, so long as you are purchasing Wild Turkey.
I’m sorry, but you’ve taken my thoughts the wrong way. If you truly feel I’m posting something to maintain my viewership, then you don’t know me. The alternative would be for me to say nothing at all (which is not how I feel) – or – to say something fabricated by someone else (which wouldn’t be speaking my own mind).
If it’s not apparent that I (and the vast majority of the whiskey community) support people of all colors, then you’ve missed the heart of this post. Yes, I’ve shared with people of color. No, I don’t have pictures to prove it.
I can’t deny being privileged, but tone deaf and ignorant – well, you’re certainly free to criticize my writing as you see fit. It’s hard to be positive in times like these, but I’m damn sure trying. As for the proper forum, if you go back and re-read you’ll see that it’s in reference to politics and religion.
I’ve seen nothing but kindness and charity from the little time I’ve spent with Jimmy. He doesn’t do what he does out of a love for money.
Again, I apologize if you’ve taken my thoughts the wrong way. Feel free to email me if you’d like. I’ll listen.
Needed to be said & thank you for sharing. Cheers 🥃
Thanks for reading.
kool take n it easy ,australia
Love the blog. You are very engaging writer and I look forward to continuing to follow your work. But I have one response to a specific statement you made.
“When I first explored whiskey enthusiasm, I learned early on (occasionally the hard way) that checking one’s political and religious beliefs (or non beliefs) at the door proved sound practice.”
I totally understand this sentiment. We all come from different backgrounds, religions (or lack thereof), cultures, etc. And it seems easier, less volatile, to talk about our shared interests rather than our differences. But I think ultimately this type of thinking is misguided. I think it’s critically important that friends and family engage each other over controversial issues like this. We have to learn to respectfully challenge each other. Otherwise we tend to retreat into our own political bubbles, insulated from differing ideas and perspectives. They aren’t always easy conversations, but they can be meaningful and constructive, especially if they start out over a shared bottle of whiskey.
Anyways, those are my two cents. Take care.
When you become friends, those discussions are great to have. But if you’re new to one another, political and religious topics often divide more than unite. However, this particular issue – equal rights and fairness – has nothing to do with politics or religion. It has to do with decency. And so, speaking openly from day one is a good thing.
Hear hear! Thanks for writing this, I share your sentiments entirely.