Monday, December 21, 2020

Lemons and Bourbon

 I like my bourbon.

And in a year of untold stress, unseen financial setbacks, and the unexpected loss of cushioning cartilage between my femur and my hip socket resulting in a painful hitch in my step, I likes my bourbon as early as 5 PM. 

And 4 PM on days when I have Zoom meetings with 23 people to discuss a simple email blast.

So when one of my advertising colleagues, and occasional art director partner, put up an invitation on Facebook to join a Holiday Bourbon Exchange, I jumped on the opportunity. Particularly when, if I read the logistics correctly, it was structured like a Ponzi scheme. Meaning if I agreed to send one bottle of bourbon to the fellow in front of me on the list, there was the possibility of receiving multiple bottle of high end bourbon in return.

It's sort of like Bernie Madoff meets Jim Beam.

I did my due diligence and sent a bottle to one of my ad heroes, David Baldwin. His work appeared regularly in the advertising award annuals and I remember mimicking his style. 

Of course with my luck, David lives on an inlet, tucked away on a peninsula and surrounded by a moat. Somewhere in the Carolinas. So I had to shell out thirty extra bucks to get the bottle delivered to his hard to reach yurt.

A week later, I had a special delivery at my doorstep. Now, in this age of Instacart groceries and Amazon Prime deliveries on the every odd hour, that's not unusual. But I had forgotten about the bourbon exchange and was pleasantly surprised when a bagged bottle showed up on my doorstep.

True to the Siegel fortune, the pleasantries did not last long. 

Before the label was revealed I had visions in my head of some rare sour mash, corn fed authentic bourbon straight from the hills of Appalachia. Something that would top my favorites like Noah's Mill or Basil Hayden. A delightful small batch bourbon, artfully aged to perfection by a couple of guys named Jed and Bodean, who come from a long line of wily, outlaw bootleggers who played their craft far from the prying eyes of Johnny Law.

Instead, I got a bottle of Tottori, from those legendary bourbon makers in Japan.


Japan? I didn't know they knew about bourbon in Japan.

This is how my life goes. While everyone else on the list is sipping and savoring their artisanal bourbons drawn from hand carved oak casks, I'm stuck with a bottle made by the same corporate conglomerate that makes flat screen TVs, smart toaster ovens and the three cylinder Daihatsu.

I did a little research and discovered that all Japanese Whiskey, including bourbons and rye, are scotch derivatives. I don't think they even grow corn in Japan. And while I am ridiculously ignorant as far as the alcohol-making process goes, I believe corn plays a major role in the manufacture of bourbon. 

Later, I got a private email from Jon Wagner, a fellow copywriter in NY who is always up for freelance work, who identified himself as the bourbon giver. Apparently Jon lived in Japan for a year and thought it'd be a nice gesture to send me something representative of his personal living experience. 

And it was. In fact, before writing this post I asked Jon if he minded me ribbing him about the bourbon. He was a good sport about it.

As I was telling Jon, the bottom half of the bottle tasted better than the top. Perhaps Japanese bourbon is an acquired taste. 

Or perhaps it's the wisdom an old man gets after spending 44 years on the planet and realizing that when life hands you lemons, you turn it into a Old Fashioned. And a blog posting. 

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