BY ALEX MCDANIEL
I asked a few of the quick-witted writers from Red Cup Rebellion—SB Nation’s popular Ole Miss sports blog—to wax poetic on their love for the Grove’s most ubiquitous spirit.
Zach Berry, Jim Lohmar and Bob Lynch have plenty to share.
Do you remember your first taste of bourbon (or any whiskey)?
Zach: September 3, 2006—season opener against Memphis—was when I really drank whiskey for the first time. Not sure if it was the lack of breakfast or the atrocious game management by DA COACH O. Either way, that’s when my relationship with whiskey officially started.
Bob: I was a freshman at Ole Miss. It was almost definitely a cheaper label of Evan Williams mixed with Coke. It was probably served out of a Newk’s cup. I didn’t hate it.
Jim: Absolutely not.
What’s your general-use bourbon of choice?
Zach: Bulleit Rye for mixing and Blanton’s if I’m splurging on what I’m sipping.
Bob: I’m almost exclusively a Maker’s Mark drinker now. It’s an excellent multi-purpose bourbon in that it’s good on its own or in cocktails. And, in certain jurisdictions, it can be procured at Costco!
Jim: Bulleit Rye.
All-time favorite bourbon?
Zach: Pappy Van Winkle 10-year. Had it once and it was enough to top the rest.
Bob: Blanton’s, the original single-barrel bourbon.
Jim: Woodford Reserve.
You’re stocking a home bar with essential bourbon brands/varieties, which five would you choose and why?
Zach: For mixing, I would go with Knob Creek. It’s fairly cheap and mixes well with just about anything when drinking heaping amounts on a September afternoon in the South. If you’re gifting some whiskey to a friend/family member/colleague, I would go with Bulleit. The bottle has a throwback look that is pretty dope, it’s fairly easy to drink whether neat or on the rocks and it’s got a little bite to it. And if you’re going to sit back at home and drink in “your chair”, I would go with Basil Hayden. Shout out to all you slow sippers out there that love you some rye. BH packs a punch for sure.
Bob: Maker’s Mark, Basil Hayden, Blanton’s, Woodford Reserve, and Evan Williams Green Label (that one is purely for nostalgic purposes).
Jim: Woodford, Jack Daniel’s, Gentry (Charleston, S.C.), Manifest (Jacksonville, Fla.), and any and all Bulleit mashes. These are representative of my palette, where I’ve lived and what’s accessible to most every bourbon drinker out there. Gentry is a fine spirit, if niche and not available all over the country, as is Manifest. Bulleit is viable in every context.
Do you have any bourbon-snob habits or weird preferences?
Zach: Some might agree with me and say, “Hell, yeah, fam. I do that, too,” but others may scoff. But, when I prepare old fashioneds at home, I still muddle the sugar and bitters. It is a bit time-consuming but if you’re going to make an old fashioned, might as well go big, right?
Bob: I’ll mix bourbon with lime La Croix from time to time. I don’t care what the haters say.
Jim: I don’t think so, I generally take mine neat, unless I’m drinking outside and it’s hot, in which case two ice cubes. Nor do I cringe at other people’s habits. It’s bourbon—you do you.
Last one. Pick a song that best describes how you feel about bourbon.
Zach: “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. It’s just a damn good song.
Bob: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. At least that’s the answer I’ll give after a night of mint juleps.
Jim: “Love Like This,” Cooley’s song on Drive-by-Truckers’ “Pizza Deliverance.” He talks about sleeping in his boots, again.