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.