My mom, who is 91 at the time of this writing, was born n’ reared in Paris, Kentucky; a proud Bourbon County tobacco farmer’s daughter who didn't take any guff from anyone. Still doesn’t, as a matter of fact.

But the only time bourbon was ever in the house when I was a kid was when she'd sneak in a cheap bottle during Christmas to make bourbon balls, a confection that I didn't learn to enjoy until well into my 30’s. 

Well. Can’t get those years back…

In that strange dichotomy known as southern conservatism, my evangelical Baptist upbringing forbade imbibing in the amber wonder that is my birthright. Suffice it to say, I joyfully shook off those shackles years ago.

Last week, I enjoyed back-to-back whiskey distillery tours at Woodford Reserve in Versailles, Kentucky (don’t say it like the French. Trust me) and at Hartfield & Co. Distillery, Paris, Kentucky. (There’s that French thing, again.) The two distilleries couldn't be more diametrically opposed in terms of size — or philosophy. But they're both committed to bourbon’s heritage and craft, which is a uniquely American thing. ​

I’ll admit, I’m not much of a patriot. But I do appreciate me a nice glass of sippin’ brown.​