Blog

How My Dad Taught Me to Love Muhammad Ali

Back when boxing was a sport people paid more attention to, my dad watched as much of it as he could. He would take over the living room to watch the Friday Night Fights or a Wide World of Sports special and wait with a sort of edgy eagerness we rarely ever saw. My dad was too cheap to spring for pay-per-view fights, choosing instead to find out which friends had before inviting himself over. When there was a title fight or two boxers he was particularly interested in, Dad would pace around the room waiting for the bell to sound like he was another fighter in the ring. He never sat down, instead he perched his butt on the edge of the coffee table, moved his shoulders with each jab and cross, and jumped up when the boxers mixed it up.

Having boxed for many years in Northern Ireland, where he grew up, Dad came by his love of the sport naturally. In his twenties, he fought as an amateur and worked as a sparring partner for pro boxers like Kid Gavilan. He was a true student of the sport. Where so many saw boxing as brutal and ugly, Dad saw its elegance and intricacy. That’s why he loved watching Muhammad Ali so much—because Ali brought speed and finesse to the traditional heavyweight slugfest. More than anything dad hated to see two fighters simply bash each other senseless. For him, boxing was so much more than simply slugging it out. It was a mental game made up of lightning fast moves—a chess match using the fists, feet, head, heart, and soul as the pieces. And that was Ali’s game.

 

Dan-box-695x1024From 1974 to 1991, Ali dominated the sport in a way no other fighter had done before or since. He was such a rare combination of grace, power, and speed. His hands were so quick that he didn’t have to cover up and lumber about like the other heavyweights, allowing him to verbally assault his opponents and then dance around them. Where they lurched, Ali bounced. His non-stop chatter got in their heads. And his every taunt was backed up by so much talent. Ali was such an amazing entertainer that all of us kids eventually join dad in the living room to watch him, especially his sit-down interviews with Howard Cosell on the Wide World of Sports back when the show delivered more substance on a Sunday afternoon than 24 hours of ESPN ever did. Like dad, we couldn’t get enough of Ali.

Dad had loved him since 1974, the year Ali fought George Foreman in Zaire to reclaim the heavyweight title that had been taken from him in 1967 when he refused to serve in the U.S. military. Since dad had always been against the Vietnam War, Ali’s ballsy act of defiance put him solidly in the boxer’s corner. More than anything, dad believed in standing up for the little guy and was outraged by the ongoing atrocities being inflicted upon African Americans in the South. For him, their fight for civil rights mirrored the oppression and violence he faced as a Catholic in Northern Ireland. In Ali, he saw himself—a scrawny kid from a segregated town with the wrong religion who had pulled himself up out of the dirt to prevail over a government that had done nothing but keep him down.

Ali once said, “Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” In the end, that kind of indomitable spirit was what will forever link Ali and my dad in my mind. Ali had been fighting Parkinsons for two decades before dad came face to face with the own degenerative condition—the one that would eventually bring him down. Like Parkinsons, my dad’s distal myopathy attacked the nervous system, cutting off the signals running up and down his spine and making him a prisoner in his own skin. It happened a lot faster with dad, but just like Ali, he saw his motor skills degenerate and his body shut down.

Dad battled his affliction with every fiber of his being until he died 4 years ago. The disease would take everything from him but it would never take his fight. He always he kept moving and held his head up. He never stopped throwing punches. Just like Ali.

My Friends Are Getting Divorced, And It Got Me Thinking

We had just sat down for lunch when Dennis dropped the bomb. “Michelle and I are separated, and it looks like we’re getting a divorce.” My heart sank. I hadn’t seen him for over a year and was eager to spend the next hour getting caught up. Over the course of our 12-year friendship, Dennis and I have provided each other with plenty of advice, ranging from career moves to what phone to buy. Suddenly, we were in unknown territory, and I was sitting across from a man whose marriage was crashing down and didn’t know what to say or do about it.

This was the second time that this had happened to me in the past 6 months. In February, I met another old friend for drinks and discovered he had been separated from his wife and living in an apartment for several months and hadn’t told me. Like Dennis, this friend was also unable to explain why his marriage was falling apart. Neither he nor his wife had been unfaithful. He just said they didn’t like doing the same things anymore and that as their kids grew up he and his wife became less of a couple and like more roommates.

It’s not like divorces are on the rise—quite the opposite according to a recent University of Michigan study.

Overall, the divorce rate has been on the decline since the 1980s. But when you combine your real-life divorced peers with the array of celebrity couples—Ben and Jen, Gwen and Gavin, Blake and Miranda—currently in the process of consciously uncoupling, there are times when it begins to feel like a long-lived marriage is up against impossible odds.

Of course, there are any number of reasons why couples split up, from unrealistic expectations to abuse and infidelity. Money often plays an oversized role, too. With so many ways marriages can go wrong, there’s no easy secret formula to making them work. If there was, then Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggywould still be together. But in the 12 years I’ve been married, I’ve learned that the big issues are easier to tackle when my wife and I focus on consistently doing the little things that keep our marriage healthy. Here are the six that work for us.

1. Give a little bit. While there’s a time and place for grand romantic gestures, like surprise trips to Monte Carlo, there are also plenty of other small ways to make your partner feel your love. For instance, my wife likes to slip little notes into my bag before I head out the door for a business trip. She’ll send a screenshot when a song we love pops up on Pandora. But I find that anything from a foot massage to hand-delivered cup of coffee can add flavor to the average day and keep you connected.

2. Create something together. It helps that my wife and I are in the same line of work, where collaborating is a necessity. But I find that working with your spouse on a project is a rewarding way to spend time together and keep you on the same page. It can be as simple as cooking dinner together or planting a vegetable garden. The act of being creative and bouncing ideas back and forth naturally brings people closer. It also helps break a marriage out of the day-to-day minutia of bills and busywork.

3. Make each other feel good. One of my wedding vows was to make my wife laugh every single day. And even though I’m not sure if I’ve managed this feat completely, I do know that it’s something I love to do. That’s because making her laugh and feel good goes a long way toward keeping us both happy. When you think about it, your partner is your touch stone. This person knows your favorite movies, all your proudest moments, and every single one of your life dreams. When they feel good, you tend to feel better, too.

4. Don’t keep score. When you both work or have young children to care for, it’s easy to get the impression that all the hard work is falling on your shoulders. From cooking to cleaning to helping with the homework, there’s an unending to-do list that inevitably leads you to feel like you’re taken for granted. While the healthiest thing to do is to communicate these feelings and team up with your spouse to better tackle the load, you should also take into account that in marriage the math doesn’t always add up. Focusing on where it doesn’t will only lead to resentment.

5. Carve out your own space. Going on a trip with a friend, taking a college course, practicing a hobby, or joining a book or running club are all great ways to enrich yourself. But what’s even better is bringing those experiences back to your marriage. Encouraging each other to have experiences and become richer people will fortify your marriage.

6. Take time rediscover each other. Over the past 12 years, my wife and I have both changed. And I’m sure we’ll change even more over the course of the next 12 years. I feel differently about her now than I did when we first met, and I’m sure she does too. The best way for us to keep growing together is set aside an evening each week to check in, to talk, and to remember why we chose each other to begin with.

Old Dad Joke: Are You Dunn?

Here’s another joke my dad used to tell:

A young man was leaving his small Irish town for New York City when a little old lady stopped him in the street. She said her son had recently moved to New York and hadn’t called her in several months. She was desperate to hear how he was making on and asked the man if he could get her son call her. The young man told the little old lady that New York was a big place and he’d have a hard time finding her son. She replied that his name was John Dunn and that he lived in a little white house on the side of the road. The young man told her he would do his best to pass along her message and went on his way.

When he arrived in New York he grabbed a cab to his hotel. On the way there he saw a little white house that matched the lady’s description, so he asked the taxi to stop so he could go in. Inside he found a woman standing behind a desk, so he asked her if there was a John there. “Just down the hall, second door on the right,” she said. The young man followed her the directions and entered the door to find inside washing his hands. So the young man asks to him, “Are you Dunn?” The other man looked up and said, “Yes.”

“Well, for God’s sake call your mother!”

 

I’m Going To Let My Son See Me Cry—Here’s Why

“Why do kids cry so much and grownups don’t?” asked my son Elliot. It was Father’s Day and I had taken him to see Inside Out, the new Pixar film, voiced by Amy Poehler and Bill Hader. The movie brought us inside the head of an 11-year-old girl to tell the story of how five anthropomorphized emotions—Anger, Joy, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness—work together to manage her feelings from moment to moment. Joy and Sadness are the main characters, and the plot of the movie revolves around the important role sadness plays in helping the girl get through a tough time.

Never one to pass up a teachable moment, my wife Jess immediately sat down next to our 8-year-old, looked him in the eyes, and explained that grownups don’t cry as often as kids because they’ve experienced a lot more. And over time, adults develop coping mechanisms that help them deal with sad moments so we don’t break into tears in the middle of dentist appointments and important meetings. But we still feel the same things.

It’s not like my wife and I haven’t ever cried in front of our boys. I’ve sat next to Elliot at plenty of other movies (yes, the scene at the end of the The Lego Movie got me) bawling my eyes out at every tender moment shared between all the action figures, fish, and imaginary monsters. My personal Kryptonite is the 5-minute-long lifespan of a marriage montage near the beginning of Up—it crushes me every time. And I welled up watching Elliot play Peter Pan last summer in a local musical production. I couldn’t hold back as I stood alongside the other drama dads in the middle of the theater with our tripods and cameras and my heart grow three sizes out of pride.

But beyond the movie, I knew what my son’s question was really about. Like many parents, my wife and I tend to keep the things that truly sadden us to ourselves. We want to protect our boys, to keep things on an even keel, and to make sure they don’t see the scary things that bring us to our knees. So we reflexively retreat to our bedrooms when we’re sad or we save our tears for the times and places away from our children.

Case in point. I had gotten a little emotional during my run that morning. Since I lost my dad three years ago, I’ve found that I feel his loss most acutely when I’m out on a run or a long bike ride. Maybe that’s because I’m by myself there’s nothing else to distract me from my thoughts. And maybe it’s just that running was always my special one-on-one time with my dad growing up. It was Father’s Day after all. Either way, I felt his absence pretty intensely as I dug deeper into my workout

While there’s nothing wrong with feeling sad or despondent, I know that I, like so many other dads, have a hard time doing so in front of my boys. Yet it’s probably the best way to instill in them a healthy relationship with their own sadness. If they can see first hand how crying helps me to move beyond the moment, then they’ll learn to do the same thing. They’ll learn that crying can make them feel better, too. And that it isn’t something that needs to be done in private.

Old Dad Joke: Stickity Stick

Here’s a joke my dad used to tell:

A guy signs up for the army and goes to get his equipment after he’s been processed. When he gets to the place where he’s supposed to pick up his rifle the man tells him that he just ran out. “If you need to shoot just say ‘BANGITY BANG BANGITY BANG!'” he says. Bummed out and little confused, the guy moves on to the next area where he’s supposed to pick up the bayonet. But the next man is out too. “If you need to stab someone just go, ‘STICKITY STICK STICKITY STICK!'” he says. Dejected and wondering what the heck he signed up for, the guy jumps into the next truck on its way to the front where there’s a battle raging on.

Side by side with the rest of the soldiers in his unit, the guy advances on the enemy position. As soon as he sees the enemy, he shouts, “BANGITY BANG BANGITY BANG!!” Amazingly, the enemy soldier drops to the ground. Encouraged by his success he charges the next two enemy soldiers and goes, “STICKITY STICK STICKITY STICK!” They both immediately collapse in front of him. This is incredible, he thinks, I’ve become unstoppable.

So when he sees his next foe way off in the distance, he shouts, “BANGITY BANG BANGITY BANG!” at him. He waits for him to fall, but nothing happens. The guy charges his unfazed adversary next and goes “STICKITY STICK STICKITY STICK!” Again he thinks the man will fall and again nothing happens. “Why wont you drop?” the guy says. The enemy soldier knocks him down and responds, “TANKITY TANK TANKITY TANK!”

Photo by Horia Varlan

Talking About Phoebe

Here’s how we told our son Elliot that our dog Phoebe passed away.

Jess: So something happened last night at Gram and Papa’s house.

Elliot: What happened?

Jess: Phoebe got sick and went away.

Elliot: Phoebe went away?

Jess: Yeah, like Dado went away and like Jumpy your frog went away.

Elliot: Phoebe died?

Me: Yeah, Phoebe died last night.

Jess: The next time you see Papa you need to give him a big hug because he took care of Phoebe for a long time. He did everything with her.

Elliot: Why was Phoebe always at Papa’s house?

Jess: Well, Phoebe used to live with us, but when you came along she got really jealous. She didn’t like that I gave all my attention to you instead of her. So she went to live with Papa.

Elliot: And Gram?

Jess: Yeah, Papa and Gram.

Me: We adopted Phoebe when mommy and I lived in California. She was running around the streets of Oakland and was very sick when we found her.

Jess: You know Phoebe had worms so bad when we got her that she would only poop in the middle of the street? She would just stop while we were in a crosswalk and go right there.

Elliot: What would the people in the cars do?

Jess: They would stop and wait for us while Phoebe just squatted and stared at them.

Me: Phoebe was scared of everything when we got her. Any noise would make her jump. She came a long way, though she was always a bit quirky.

Elliot: Yeah.

Elliot: I really liked Phoebe.

Me: Yeah, she was a good girl.

Learning About Bourbon From a Master Distiller

“You can just sit here drinking and I’ll spin the table.” Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell gives the tabletop a push and sends two half-ounce whiskey shots around in front of me. “One is our rye bourbon and one is our straight. I want you to tell me what you think.” Talk about being put on the spot. Russell has been making whiskey for 58 years and has city streets, mixed drinks, and, of course, bourbons named after him. It’s like Alexander the Great asking me to critique his battle plan.

We’re sitting in the Wild Turkey sampling room, which looks out on a few of the 23 massive 30,000-gallon fermentation vats at the heart of the distiller’s new plant in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. “These are about ready to bottle,” he says of all the bourbon shots on the table. “We’ve done tasted them all the years they’ve been aging and we’ll be tasting them again soon to be sure they’re done.” In other words, Russell knows exactly what he’s looking for in every single sample sitting in front of us. And when each one tastes the way he thinks it should, he and the other members of the Wild Turkey tasting panel will okay the bourbon for bottling.

I, on the other hand, have no idea what I’m looking for. Even though I’ve spent the last two days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail educating myself in the Commonwealth’s signature export, I can’t properly describe what I’ve just poured into my mouth. I’ve explored the barrel-aging warehouses at Jim Beam and Woodford Reserve, poked my head into the Wild Turkey yeast fermentation tank, and learned proper whiskey sipping techniques at Heaven Hill, yet when it comes to making sense of each bourbon I taste, I draw a blank.

Truth be told, gaining a better understanding of bourbon is just my excuse for spending a couple of days in the heart of the Bluegrass State. Besides producing champion college basketball programs and thoroughbred bloodlines that dominate the horseracing scene, this area of Kentucky is a tourist destination in its own right. I’ve found plenty to do bouncing between Louisville and Lexington, from exploring Churchhill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, to eating the best meal I’ve had all year at a little restaurant named Jonathan’s—after its immensely gifted chef and owner, Jonathan Lundy. And I’m not alone in mixing tourism with bourbon tasting, the previous Saturday brought 1,000 visitors to each of the distilleries. That’s a lot of people looking to expand their whiskey palates.

But, if you’re like me, you might need a few lessons to distinguish average whiskey to something special. “I look for four things,” Russell says. “Caramel, vanilla, wood, and sweetness. You want the finish to leave a good taste in your mouth.” He adds that each person is going to look for a distinctive balance of flavors. Russell explains how to examine, smell, and sip the bourbon shot he gives me, describing his approach in developing each brand I’m sampling. My taste buds become more attuned to the spirits, which I hope will put them at an advantage as bourbon is becoming more and more popular.

Thanks to the rise of small-batch premium brands and “Mad Men”-inspired mixed drinks, Bourbon is in the midst of a renaissance, and the folks running the distilleries in central Kentucky’s horse-dotted hills couldn’t be happier. Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon, according to the state distillers’ association, and production has increased 50 percent since 1999. There are 4.7 million barrels of bourbon currently aging in the state, the most since the early 1980s. There’s at least one barrel of bourbon in storage for every person living in Kentucky.

Along with expanding production, distilleries are making over their visitor centers to accommodate the growing interest in the native spirit. The Distillers’ Association launched the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 1999 to highlight a series of six distilleries that give tours. The self-guided excursion through the country roads and state highways has averaged double-digit percentage growth in the past five years. Since 2007, 2 million visitors toured at least one distillery, and nearly 25,000 people completed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Heaven Hill Distilleries, whose brands include Evan Williams bourbon, built a new visitor center last year that features a museum-like tour through the history of bourbon in the region and a huge barrel shaped tasting room. Jim Beam, the world’s top-selling bourbon, is currently pumping $18 million into upgrading its visitor center and making other improvements at its Clermont plant to accommodate the growing number of tourists.

The Four Roses and Woodford Reserve distilleries also have put money into upgrading visitor centers. Maker’s Mark is in the midst of an estimated $50 million expansion that will boost production, expand bottling capacity, and accommodate larger tour groups at its operations near Loretto in central Kentucky. And next month Wild Turkey will break ground on a new visitor’s center. “We’re going to build it like a tobacco barn and it’ll look out over the Kentucky River,” says Russell.

We’ve just wrapped up a our behind-the-scenes tour of Wild Turkey, and as we step back onto the plant floor the smell of fermented grains and the constant hum of machinery bombard my other senses. The plant was built three years ago when the company realized it couldn’t expand the old one anymore. “We haven’t changed anything with the making part,” says Russell. “Just got bigger.” He acknowledges there are a lot more computer systems in place, automating some of the processes and making it so workers can add ingredients or tweak the temperature with a few keystrokes. But all that is necessary when you get to this size. “We’re currently filling 560 barrels a day,” says Russell, “and since everything we make is aged eight-10 years, we have to plan out carefully.”

Down at Woodford Reserve, the boutique distillery I toured this morning, such careful planning takes on a whole new meaning. This premium small batch bourbon maker only makes two brands of bourbon and starts by cooking up each batch in four of the smallest fermentation vats in the industry. Each vat is made out of cypress wood and feeds into a set of three copper pot stills. According to my tour guide each 7,500-gallon vat produces 850 gallons of new whiskey at the other end of the still. This alcohol goes into charred white oak barrels just like at other bourbon distilleries, but Woodford stores its barrels for eight years, on average, in limestone warehouses that date back to 1893.

It’s a sophisticated operation done with handcrafted precision in the middle of a national historic landmark outside of Versailles. It looks like what most people think Kentucky is supposed to look like—stately stone and wood buildings perched on scenic rolling hills in the middle of miles and miles of horse farms. This is by design since the distillery underwent a massive restoration project that has paid off in spades for Louisville-based Brown-Forman, parent company of Jack Daniels, which bought and rehabilitated the property in 1996.

Resurrecting the derelict farm and distilling site took two years and a reported $7 million, but it resulted in a distillery that not only supported the kind of production needed to build a national brand, but also is a tourist destination on par with some of California’s finest wineries. And like many California wineries, Woodford Reserve charges money for its tour and tasting. The tour was interesting and colorful enough to make it worthwhile, especially when you factor in the tasty sample of its premium bourbon offered at the end. In accordance with Kentucky law, Woodford, and every other distillery I visited, limits its samples to half-ounce shots.

To acquaint myself with a wider range of whiskeys I visited the Bluegrass Tavern in Lexington last night, 40 minutes up the road from Woodford Reserve through some of the most scenic thoroughbred country imaginable. The tavern has 187 different types of bourbon on the menu and a staff that’s well versed on the subject. My bartender helped me hone in on my preferences and told me plenty of stories about the bottles in their collection. I was lucky to be there on a school night when the bar was relatively quiet. As the home of the University of Kentucky, Lexington has a big-college-town feel—the entire downtown area is frequently flooded with basketball-crazy students when the NCAA champion Wildcats play at Rupp Arena. So I managed to get my fill of bourbon in relative peace before stumbling back to the Gratz Inn.

Up until 1996, distilleries couldn’t even sell visitors a bottle of bourbon, much less pass out samples. As Bill, my tour guide at Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, explained to me, “Everyone would come here looking to taste some bourbon and buy a bottle, and we’d have to send them to the liquor store. Then the state passed a law about six years ago allowing us to offer samples at the end of each tour.” Visitors can also buy up to three liters of whiskey at the distilleries. These changes have driven the explosion in bourbon tourism.

Heaven Hill had 1,000 visitors the Saturday before my visit—they all came by car or motorcycle—no tour buses, to Bill’s chagrin. “I’d rather have a tour bus because they’re fun.” Heaven Hill makes Evan Williams and several other brands of bourbon. Most are bottled at the Bardstown plant but none are actually distilled here—not since the distillery went up in flames. On November 7, 1996, the Heaven Hill distilling building burned down along with seven warehouses full of bourbon in one massive conflagration. The plant was almost completely destroyed—more than 90,000 gallons of alcohol burned. To keep up its bourbon production the company bought a distillery in Louisville, which it still operates, and then ships the alcohol to the Bardstown plant for storage and bottling.

“When these barrels arrive at the warehouse they weigh 510-522 pounds,” says Bill, “And they contain 53 gallons of alcohol.” We’re standing in the middle of one of Heaven Hill’s warehouses where hundreds of bourbon barrels are stacked all around us.

Besides the free standard tour, Heaven Hill offers a behind-the-scenes walk through ($25) and a trolley tour of downtown Bardstown and the surrounding area. I opted for the trolley tour and got to see much of historic Bardstown, including the Doll Cottage, which is an old log cabin school, and Federal Hill, the antebellum mansion that inspired the Stephen Foster’s ballad, “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Large groups should consider a ride on the Old Kentucky Dinner Train, which serves a four-course meal while steaming through the countryside. And if you really want to be part of something special, visit during the annual Bourbon Festival, September 11-16. You’ll find bourbon tastings from dozens of craft distillers, barrel-making exhibitions, and every bourbon-soaked food you could imagine. It’s the biggest event of the year around here, so plan out your trip months in advance.

When I got back to Heaven Hill, Bill took me to the tasting room where he poured 10- and 20-year-old bourbons for me to taste. But he insisted I learn to do it the right way first. He asked me to pick up the 10-year-old bourbon and tilt it on its side to detect any cloudiness. Then he told me to swirl it around and give it a whiff. It smelled smoky and a bit spicy. Next he asked me to add three drops of water to the glass, swirl it around, and then smell the bourbon again. The spiciness wasn’t as pronounced it was before. “Now,” he said, “you’re ready to take a sip—just don’t slam it back like John Wayne.”

Both bourbons were delicious, but the 20-year-old had a way of coating my mouth with a smoky caramel taste that made me chew on it for a while before swallowing. Heaven Hill produces a lot of bourbon, but not as much as some of the other distilleries in the area. “The same year we barreled six million, Jim Beam barreled 12.” He’s hoping the Jim Beam distillery 20 minutes down the road in Clermont, Ky., will drive more tourist his way when its new visitors center is completed this fall.

As home of the best-selling bourbon in the world (Jim Beam White) the Jim Beam distillery is massive in scale, sitting on 480 acres and housing, at any given time, 1.6 million barrels of bourbon. Walking the grounds and seeing the old Beam family homestead provides a better sense of the history and care that’s gone into producing whiskey on this site for the past 215 years. In lieu of a walkthrough in the nearby distillery, we watch a movie on the production process. From there, we tour a warehouse and learn that the record-high temperatures of the past couple of years have aged some of the spirits slightly more than average.

While the walking tour of the re-created small-batch whiskey still, the Beam family home, and the bourbon warehouse is educational, the distillery has more ambitious plans for the new tour launching this fall. “This is the first time in Jim Beam’s history that we are allowing visitors to see our bourbon-making process,” says Kimberly Bennett, director of the Beam Heritage Center, “It will be a very up close and personal experience.” When the new center is built, visitors will experience an interactive tour that includes helping to make Knob Creek, Beam’s single barrel craft bourbon, by stirring the grains to make the mash and filling the bottles.

Witnessing the bourbon-making process and tasting the results not only brings a better understanding of the care that goes into making Kentucky’s signature export, but also an appreciation the character of the people who make it. From the distilleries to the taverns, every place I visited in Central Kentucky was filled with down-to-earth characters eager to share their love of the local spirit. I wasn’t a bourbon expert before I went on this tour, and I can’t say that I am now. But I know what I like and I know how explain why. And I have some master distillers in Central Kentucky to thank for that.