Bourbon Zeppelin
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Steve Akley Presents...

This Month's Bourbon Zeppelin Feature Article

So What's It Really Like Meeting Jimmy Russell?

by Colonel Steve Akley


The Day I Met My Bourbon Hero!

At this point in my life, going to Kentucky supersedes any other vacation for me when it comes to excitement. There is just so much to offer there for the bourbon fan: distilleries, great restaurants, amazing bars, shopping for unique and rare bourbons, opportunities to meet some of the individuals I have gotten to know through social media... and the bourbon celebrities. You know who I am talking about; the people who don't consider themselves celebrities because they are simply people working a job, but for the bourbon fan(atic), they are very much as big of a celebrity as any professional athlete, TV or movie actor/actress or rock star on the planet.

These are the people we, as adults, put on a pedestal, for what they are able to accomplish in the world of bourbon. One of the greatest aspects of our beloved distilled spirit is the fact that no matter how much technology gets added into the equation, the need for artistry in this business remains. Those creative geniuses, the ones calling the shots in the world of bourbon, that's who we acknowledge as the celebrities of the business.

With that definition, there is no bigger celebrity that Jimmy Russell. What he represents to the world of bourbon puts him in the range of a national treasure. His 64 years in the industry represents a roller coaster of the best of times, to the worst of times, back up to the best of times again. He, along with his contemporaries, names like Booker Noe, Elmer T. Lee and Parker Beam helped changed the industry forever and put it back on track after it was all but forgotten.

Jimmy Russell is the creator of Wild Turkey 101, one of the most recognized brands in the world. He introduced flavored bourbon back in 1976 with his Wild Turkey Honey. Whether you are a fan of that particular product or not, you have to acknowledge it has brought waves of new fans to bourbon and has a special place in the history of the business. 

On a personal basis, I love to think about the knowledge about the industry Jimmy represents. After all, no one inherently knows how to create bourbon. It's a learned trade. You draw upon those who did it before you and pull a little bit of knowledge from each person to create your own style in the business. If you think about Jimmy Russell, starting at Wild Turkey in 1954, you begin to think about the old-timers of the time teaching a young Jimmy how to make bourbon and you quickly realize what he was able to pull from them probably represents another 30 or 40 years before he began his career and those individuals were learning from old timers when they got started so suddenly, Jimmy's 64 years of experience is probably representing 125 years plus of firsthand knowledge of this business.


I love Jimmy Russell. I can say that without reservation.

Jimmy is a guy I knew back when I was just a bourbon drinker. I wasn't bourbon hobbyist, collector or necessarily interested in bourbon history or how production worked. That would come later after a trip to visit the distilleries when a fondness for a distilled spirit turned into a passion.

The point being that I didn't have to be a fanboy of bourbon to know who Jimmy Russell was. He's larger than life. He transcends bourbon and creeps into popular culture.

As I have followed the progression of bourbon drinker, to hobbyist, to passionate collector, to dabbling in the industry via books and podcasts to finally, making it a full-time career, Jimmy Russell has become even more impressive, even larger than life and a person I admire more than ever. With all of his contemporaries now gone, he's really the last of the generation that seen the boom in bourbon from the 50s-70s, the downfall from the 80s-90s and then the rise again to where we are today.

As I have gotten more immersed in the business, Jimmy had been elusive for me. I have't been able to secure an interview with him for my podcasts. Every time I dropped into Wild Turkey he wasn't there. 

I had started to think I would never get the chance to see him, and then last fall, I went to The Bourbon Festival in Bardstown to cover the event for Bourbon Zeppelin. On All-Star night, I turned the corner, and, there he was. I got to spend a few brief moments with him chatting and it was amazing. It was one of the greatest moments in my life so it was way bigger for me personally than just meeting a "bourbon person."

Of course, that was a rushed encounter. As I spoke to him, there was a line waiting to do the exact same thing behind me. While I wouldn't trade that interaction for anything in the world, there wasn't a chance to really get to know Jimmy a bit.

That moment was about to come, though.

Tracy Napolitano of the New Orleans Bourbon Festival invited me to Louisville with him to make some barrel picks. These selections would be bottled with a New Orleans Bourbon Festival logo on them and sold in New Orleans as a means to promote the Festival. It really was an honor and another of those surreal moments that makes what I am doing now with my life so very special to me.

On our last day in Louisville, we had an open day before we would head to Frankfort for an evening dinner prior to heading back home. We spent the morning hitting a few distilleries and meeting some of our friends in the business.

It was after lunch and I asked Tracy if it would be okay to swing down to Wild Turkey as I heard they had a gift in their gift shop that was perfect for my co-host Renee Howe and her birthday was coming up so I wanted to get it for her. Not sure if Tracy was into that idea or not, but I did remind him Jimmy Russell is sometimes in the gift shop so he agreed to let me make the side trip on our way to Frankfort.

We pulled up and saw a truck that met the description of what we heard Jimmy drove. Plus, it wasn't even in a parking spot, it was just pulled up in front of the building.

Could that possibly be Jimmy Russell?

We walk in the door... and there he was: Jimmy Russell. It's an awe-inspiring and breathtaking moment if you are a true fan.

Wait... it gets better.

It was Jimmy sitting at a table... by himself, Tracy and I and no one else. Off to our left there were a few gift shop employees, but this was a meeting without a line of people behind me also waiting to speak with Jimmy. It was him, Tracy and I.

Jimmy explained he had come in for a big tour and they just left. So, we started talking... and talking... and talking. A few times, I thought I might politely let Jimmy go, but he was asking us questions. To leave would be rude!

We ended up speaking for almost an hour! 

What did we talk about?

I wish I could tell you, but I won't.

You see, I wasn't interviewing Jimmy for Bourbon Zeppelin and we weren't podcasting. This was just three guys talking about bourbon and life. It was a private conversation, and out of respect for Mr. Russell, it will stay that way, but I can tell you this...

It was amazing. 

We talked about so many incredible things that related to the industry, and we laughed and shared some common experiences about vacations. It was just incredible. Afterwards, Tracy and I both ran over to the gift shop, bought a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 and had Jimmy sign them for us.

My bottle of 101 signed by Jimmy. I bought a one bottle wood display case for it with UV protected glass. It is now my most cherished bourbon collectible.

It was an incredible afternoon. I got to meet Jimmy Russell, and the interaction turned out to be completely engaging and fulfilling. Jimmy Russell was able to create a moment Tracy Napolitano and I will never forget, simply by being Jimmy Russell, and that is pretty darn great.
There's nothing better than checking out a new edition of Bourbon Zeppelin on a cold winter day. I mean you aren't going outside, so grab a Glencairn, pour a glass (flask or coffee if you are at work) and read away.

We have a dandy little issue lined out. We've got some great articles from the team, and, we have Joe Luby helping the cause with his article on the person, or in this case people, he would like to share a dram with.

Just like I always like to say... I hope you enjoy reading this as much as we had putting it together.

Editor-in-Chief of Bourbon Zeppelin, Owner of the ABV Network, Podcast Writer, Producer & On-Air Personality, 30+ Year Bourbon Fan, Maker's Mark Ambassador (Ambassador #14,903/member since 2000), Four Roses Mellow Moments Club Member (2016), Author of the Best-Selling Cocktail Book Series Bourbon Mixology (Four Volumes, 2015-Present), Apprenticed at a Bourbon Distillery (2016), Completed the Bourbon Trail (2016), Executive Bourbon Steward (2017), Whiskey Warrior Award Winner (May '17), Founding Member Jefferson's Bourbon Ambassador Program (2017), Barrel Selection Committee Member for New Orleans Bourbon Festival (2018), & Kentucky Colonel (2016).
Table of Contents
March 8-10, 2018: Be there!
Plan on attending the 2018 New Orleans Bourbon Festival where The Bourbon Show will once again be the official podcast of the Festival. Steve Akley, Renee Howe, Evan Haskill, Andrea Holak, Jeremy Schell, Seth P. Brown and many more from the team will be in attendance from the ABV Network.
Bourbon, Always A Good Time!
As the winter wind is howling and I am writing by the fire with a lovely glass from this 2014 international bottle of Booker's, I think of the future of bourbon in Canada. The world of bourbon in Canada moves slowly and as we continue the year, the shelves are not growing with more offerings of the USA's native spirit. Even though the shelves might not be growing yet, there is much to be hopeful about and enjoyed with the plethora of whiskey festivals all across this great country. Hopefully, these events spark the appetite and wet the palate for all Canadians looking for new bourbons to explore or bring in those new to bourbon. Many of these festivals have whiskeys from all over the world, but I think this is a positive since tasting bourbon alongside other whiskeys, will let it shine. Not only are there tastings during these events, but a multitude of breakout sessions and presentations that educate and introduce some exciting personalities that make the bourbon world so great.  

In January, one of the largest of the Canadian whiskey festivals takes place in Victoria, BC. The Victoria Whiskey Festival kicks off the year for festivals around the world and draws in experts tasters, presenters, distilleries, and whiskey fanatics. Not every festival is quite as large but throughout the year in Canada, there are festivals in every major city. Edmonton, my home, and Calgary, have their whiskey festivals in January as well. Both were very good, and well attended. Winnipeg, MB has their festival in March and the Spirit of Toronto, another large sell out event, happens in May. Though Scotch, Irish, Canadian, and American (bourbon) whiskey are all presented, I believe that the more bourbon distilleries attend these events the growth of bourbon and the bourbon drinker will expand in Canada.  

Lately, I have been able to attend some local events and tastings presented by retailers in the area. This is one of the best ways, and a very good deal, to taste new and different offerings from different distilleries. There is usually some education about the product or guided tastings which helps those new to bourbon or whiskey in general get a good introduction. While this is a marketing technique more than anything, for those of us that want to try something new or get to meet an ambassador, it is a fantastic way to get a variety of experience for less than $20. I have also used these as a chance to speak with individuals that are in the position of influence to bring more bourbon options to this market, which I highly encourage. There are all types of these events and they range from simple tastings to dinners or evenings with whiskey ambassadors. The cost is usually quite low for the excellence in offerings. Most major cities in Canada have them listed on Eventbrite, so check your local area for one coming soon.  

I haven't acquired much yet this year but have been able to pick up some bottles that haven't been readily available in Alberta until recently.  I was new to Weller Special Reserve and find it quite useful for a daily sipper for a wheater. I also picked up an Old Forester when I took a quick trip to BC. While these are in almost any store in the US, we haven't had them until recently which hopefully means more of the line extensions will also be coming soon. The International market is where several distilleries have their eyes fixed as to increase sales and with the Canadian market already showing a taste for bourbon and a want for newer offerings, my hope is that they continue to grow their portfolios here.  

'til next month, stay warm and cheers!

About Thomas Springtson
Thomas Springston is a U.S. born and raised Southerner now living in Alberta, Canada 🇨🇦.  As a lifelong adventurer and bourbon fan, he finds the search for good bourbons up north a welcomed challenge. He would like to share the journey with y'all and spread the love of bourbon and the hunt up in Canada. He is honored to be able to write a little here in this great newsletter and cruise on the Bourbon Zeppelin with fellow #abvnetworkcrew members. Follow along on Instagram:  
Like any business, Bourbon Zeppelin has expenses. While we've elected to go with a strict no advertising policy, those fans who enjoy reading BZ and want to assist in helping with some of these expenses now can since we have started a Patreon page. We've got rewards and recognition for those who can help us continue to deliver incredible and unique bourbon-focused content.
The ABV Network is the fastest growing podcast network on the web. Here's the latest news with this exciting group of shows, many of which are helmed by Bourbon Zeppelin contributors.

Ed Foote, Legendary Master Distiller at Stitzel-Weller
Featured on The Bourbon Show - Today!

by Colonel Steve Akley
We have some great programming coming up on the ABV Network. Here's a sneak peak at some of the upcoming shows:
The Bourbon Show
February 20 - The top things to do in Bourbon Country besides visiting distilleries.
March 1 - We talk to Steve Beam of Limestone Branch. 

The Bourbon Daily
February 19-23 - We celebrate Black History Month with a week of shows dedicated to highlighting African Americas contributions to whiskey/bourbon.
February 26 - 401(b) portfolio reviews.
February 27 - I can't believe I am opening this bourbon!

Bourbon History
February 15 - George Remus with bourbon historian Bradley Hill.
February 22 - Al Capone, featuring his niece Diedre Capone.

Bourbon Bettys
February 19 - Wheater versus rye battle.
February 26 - A look at the Jim Beam Company.

ABV Network shows can be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Libsyn and more. Just search for the name of the show!

Deals for Bourbon Zeppelin Readers
Save 30% off of your order on the TheBar2Go with the coupon code "ABVN".

Save 15% on your order at RoundTable Woodworks when you use the coupon code, "thebourbonshow".

Please support our sponsors so we continue to deliver incredible entertainment!
#ABVNetworkCrew - Join the Revolution
The ABV Network recently announced a listener loyalty program designed to reward fans of the network's programs. Win contests, get invitations to come onto shows, receive an insider's newsletter and much more. Joining is simple... just register on the ABV Network website and put the hashtag "#ABVNetworkCrew" in your social media profiles.
Update on My Bourbon
by Colonel Steve Akley
Since it's been almost two months since my last quality check, I decided on February 6 that it would be a good time to see how the bourbon I am aging at my house is coming along. (Note: If you missed the initial article where I wrote about this, you can get caught up by reading the feature article in the edition of BZ you will be directed to if you click here.)

I grabbed the keys and headed out to Rickhouse #1 to see what was going on. Once again, I opened the door and was greeted with that heavenly smell of "Angel's Share." It's so great. It instantly reminds me of being in Kentucky. (Note to self: Look into getting a bed for Rickhouse #1.)

I opened up the spigot and got a little pour. We are starting to definitely see some color coming along. The nose still smells like un-aged white dog, but a quick taste yields a little bit of oakiness, along with some butterscotch candy notes.

Seemingly, I am on the right track here. I just need more time.

Patience, Steve... patience.

It's going so well, in fact, my mind wanders and I start wondering what it would be like if Fred Noe called me. I can just imagine him saying, "You know Steve, I am at the end of my run here. Freddie is our next Master Distiller, but this job has gotten so big we clearly need to look into the idea of a Co-Master Distiller scenario. You've been doing some great things with that backyard bourbon you've got going. Are you interested in joining Jim Beam as Co-Master Distiller with Freddie?"

Of course, I am, but, I mean I'm also pretty well set-up here in St. Louis, so, while flattered, I would turn him down.

Fred really doesn't take no for an answer (I mean it's his last name... albeit with an "e" tacked on the end, but clearly he has dealt with a lot of "noes" in his life). He would almost certainly counter with, "Well, name your price Akley."

I would come back over the top with a big number that in my mind there is no way he would accept just to end this conversation gracefully.

Much to my surprise, he would immediately respond, "Done!"

Knowing I'm stuck, I would quickly respond with, "Fred, you said 'yes' too quickly, I was going to say something else," hopefully giving me the opportunity to add a demand that will, in fact, get him to say "No!" leaving me back in the comforts of running the ABV Network back in St. Louis.

"Okay... what are you thinking?" would be Fred's response.

That answer right there means I know I've got him. I can add something so out there, he gracefully shuts down negotiations or should he begrudgingly say "Yes!" I have made the situation so good it makes it worth my while. 

Anything is on the table here in terms of requests... stock options, percentage of profits, cash performance bonuses, company vehicles, more vacation time, barrels of bourbon. Of course, I would get flummoxed realizing I am talking to Fred Noe. I mean the guy is one of my heroes. I'm not going to twist his arm. I love Fred. Everyone loves Fred.

So, I clearly would instantly blurt out, "I want a pinball machine in my office."

Fred thinks for a moment, and responds, "Under one condition, you and I get to play that thing on Friday afternoons in your office and I'm bringing the snacks and bourbon."

That my friends, is how you turn a little backyard bourbon into one of the sweetest gigs in the bourbon industry. 

My phone will be ringing any day now. I'm sure of it.
by Derek Haas
Derek will be back next month!
About Derek Haas
Derek Haas AKA @spirited_amateur on Instagram lives in NYC where he is a Manager of Recruiting at a global fashion company. Derek has recently developed a passion for crafted cocktails after visiting the countless speakeasy and cocktail bars around Manhattan. Bourbon is always his first choice but he tries to experiment with other spirits as well.
Bourbon Nuggets
Will there be a special release of Wild Turkey 101 this year celebrating the combined 101 years Jimmy and Eddie have worked for the company (64 years for Jimmy and 37 for Eddie). The signals are mixed (some say it's coming, others say it is not in the works). We can only say, "We hope so!"

Hosted this month by:
Joe Luby

Lewis and Clark

I would gladly share a bottle with Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark around a campfire lit upon the shores of some unknown river in the year 1805. Lewis and Clark, of course, being famous for leading the Corps of Discovery Expedition from 1804–1806. The two were acting on orders from President Thomas Jefferson to explore the recently acquired land of the Louisiana Purchase.

I have long been infatuated with the ways and times of the pioneering folk of the early 19th century, and the mountain man lifestyle has called to me since as far back as my memory allows. Maybe, I can blame it on my father for getting me hooked on the television show Grizzly Adams when I was a kid, or maybe I was just born a century or so too late.

We know that Lewis and Clark included whiskey in their supplies; however, punishment was stiff and swift for those imbibing without the proper invitation. John Collins and Hugh Hall learned that lesson the hard way early in the trip. In June 1804, while on guard duty, the pair snuck into the whiskey supply and got drunk. Following a court martial, Collins was sentenced to 100 lashes on his bare back, and Hall received 50. The expedition had very little trouble with members getting into the whiskey stash without permission after that.

My double pour, neat, in a tin cup, would be enjoyed while taking in the stories of the journey thus far. I would ask questions into the wee hours, demanding that they not leave out the slightest detail of their adventures, the living conditions of the expedition, the flora and fauna encountered, the people they met, and the changes in terrain and weather as they travelled west, and I would ask that John Colter be invited to join us at the fire.

Colter was a young man hired on as part of the expedition, but he proved very useful and dependable throughout the trip. He went on to become one of the earliest true mountain men and was responsible for mapping a large part of the iconic American west including Yellowstone. I think once my historical dram was finished with Messrs. Lewis and Clark, I would take my next historical tipple with Mr. Colter in about 1810, sometime after his naked multi-mile full sprint escape from a band of Blackfeet intent on his demise. If ever a story called for a whiskey in its telling, that one surely qualifies.

About This Month's Guest Columnist
Joe Luby is the bearded founder of Two Bitch™ Bourbon ( . He is known to bars and liquor stores all over Nevada as "The Two Bitch Guy," which doesn't bother his wife, the non-bearded founder, Lauren Luby one bit. The Two Bitches are their two beloved rescue pups: Miss Scarlett and Sage, pictured above. Also, partially pictured, is their 13 year old pointer dog Hunter who hates the bitches!

Their company Instagram page are regulars in the IG bourbon community. Give them a follow: @twobitchbourbon.

People so awesome they are inducted to the Bourbon Zeppelin Hall of Fame

by John Edwards

It is said there is a journey that every bourbon drinker takes in their time loving the brown water. It starts off with starter bourbons, Basil Hayden, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, and Jim Beam, and then moves to higher-proof bourbon. One then moves to the bottled-in-bonds, the Col. E.H. Taylors, Evan Williams, Old Bardstown, Heaven Hill, etc. Finally, you move up to the cask strengths. Did you know that before 1988, you wouldn’t have been able to taste that cask strength unless you worked at a distillery? That’s because there wasn’t a cask strength bourbon available on the market.

All that changed when one man from Jim Beam, who interestingly enough almost worked at Willett first, changed the game completely and was the catalyst for some of our favorite bourbons today. Known on the Jim Beam website as “The Innovator”, but we all know him as the “Big Man of Jim Beam”. Standing at six feet four inches, he had a stature almost as big as his personality. He was the grandson of Jim Beam, and was a bourbon Rockstar before Al Young, Jim Rutledge, and the Russells were signing bottles for you at tastings. That man, was Fred Booker Noe II, but you all probably just call him Booker.

Booker Noe

By the way, some of you may not realize this, but Bear Bryant coached at the University of Kentucky prior to Alabama (He also won a National Championship for the Cats, a fact we are very proud of). You might also be surprised to know that Booker Noe played for Bear and also subsequently quit the team and dropped out of school. Although he didn’t end up with a degree from Kentucky, in 1950 he joined the family business at Jim Beam as an assistant distiller. That part is just a technicality, as he had been hanging around the distillery and helping out since he was a teenager.

Booker quickly ascended through the ranks and was named “Master Distiller” in 1965. When he was handed the keys to the Beam kingdom, it was already the world’s best-selling bourbon. Booker increased the production twelvefold during his time in charge.

However, his biggest contribution to the bourbon world was the introduction of his namesake bourbon which was cask strength, “straight from the barrel”. Although Booker’s is a household name for anyone that is a bourbon fan, originally it was just Booker picking his own honey barrels and pouring it for his friends at places like Hank Williams music video shoots. Booker had noticed that the best barrels in the rickhouse were on the “center cut” of the 5th floor for a number of reasons. He ended up sharing that with his friends, and the rest was history.

Although he retired in 1992, Booker spent the rest of his life as an ambassador for Jim Beam, hosting bourbon tastings, and telling his endless stories. He also made sure to spending time fishing. In 2004, the world lost one of the true greats. His legacy is as large as his stature, but so is the void he left behind. 

The following individuals have entered the Bourbon Zeppelin Hall of Fame:

Elmer T. Lee -- George Garvin Brown -- Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. --
Jimmy Russell -- Al Young -- Dixon Dedman -- Parker Beam -- George T. Stagg -- You 
Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle -- Booker Noe

About John Edwards
John Edwards, otherwise known on Instagram as @subourbon_dad, is a former award winning sports broadcaster turned Client Engagement Manager and Project Manager for technology and healthcare companies. Although originally born in New England, it was his many years in Kentucky and eventually Nashville, Tennessee where he honed his appreciation for the finer things in life: horse racing, basketball, and bourbon. Most days he can be found spending time with his family, but you can find him most nights, after his wife and daughter go to bed, sipping bourbon, and talking to the good people of the bourbon community. You can find his bourbon reviews on and can also find him on his Instagram Live Show on Sunday nights at 9:30pm CST @dadsdrinkingbourbon

Liquor & Liturgy, Round Three:

The Rebel Preacher and the Catholic View

by Abby H.

This Month’s Sipping Saint:


Basil Hayden

The original Basil Hayden hailed from New England, but moved with several families later to Kentucky. On the way, the lifelong Christian started the first Catholic church in the area. Years later, he became the storied moniker of a milder, higher-rye, and lower-proof bourbon many use to introduce new drinkers to the heavenly stuff. In addition, the 100-proof Old Grand-Dad honors his legacy.1 

Last month, we established that the official view of the Catholic Church was neutral on alcohol, with some commentators tipping their hats to... well, tippling. This month, we’ll visit with a friend who grew up Catholic, holds her faith fervently, and enjoys good wine deeply.

Two summers ago, I received the chance to deepen my knowledge of Holocaust education in Jerusalem. There, I met a myriad of lovely people, most of them passionate teachers. Among them was Jackie, who inspired me with her openness about her religious beliefs over bottles of wine on the terrace of our hotel. Over a year later, as we traveled through Advent, I enjoyed Jackie’s posts on social media about her journey towards Christmas. At that point, remembering our shared time in Israel, I realized I had to know how this consistent practitioner of faith, as an enjoyer of wine, too, viewed the interplay of her beliefs and alcohol.

With my new friends in Israel
I recently caught up with my friend, and she shared how growing up Catholic and being a dedicated believer affect her faith now. “Faith is such an integral part of my life that I don’t tend to separate it from other categories,” Jackie said. “Sharing wine and drinks in a proper setting can be spiritual” for her, especially due to the beauty of the idea of the Eucharist, in which holy wine becomes the blood of Christ. In general, too, she reminded me that  “we are all connected to our ancestors, who revered wine,” and noted that “wine is important in all cultures, and something to be shared and savored.”  Her words reminded me of my own joyful time in the Greek Orthodox Church, where wine flows not only during Communion, but also at many dinners and other community events.

As a child, alcohol wasn’t as present for my dear friend, but she remembers Irish-Catholic friends imbibing more often. Her own experience shifted in college, where she met a priest at St. John’s University. He changed her view of Mass, she said, as this fascinating Vincentian—of the order that honors a saint from the 17th century who served the poor—introduced Jackie to the experience as more communal, with a focus on sharing the wine and breaking the bread as a holy gathering, certainly, but one to be celebrated among friends. 

While I’ve been known to swill around some bourbon solo, Jackie prefers wine with dinner or the occasional cocktail with her spouse. More than anything, her love for community and respect for wine’s hallowed role in her own faith came through in her words. She is someone who understands wine as a vital part of a world where the sacrosanct and the everday come together, and among which—truly—there’s no distinction. 

And really, isn’t that a reason many of us drink? 

I may sip bourbon alone—and like it!—but real  joy comes in new and familiar haunts, talking to people who, like me, enjoy the burn of whiskey and can help me learn more about my preferred drink. Online, of course, is another place where I learn daily from passionate people, including the readers of the Bourbon Zeppelin itself.

Really, what is wine and alcohol, without connecting? Some of my fondest memories, including my first extended conversation with Jackie, come over bottles opened and poured out. Indeed, some have become friends in just such a scenario, sipping in places like Israel and Argentina, China and Abu Dhabi. What is it about wine and whiskey that can draw people together? In the right context, I have seen alcohol grow friendship, camaraderie, and strength. When it’s savored responsibly, its loosening effect can be fruitful, and in the company of friends, wine—and, for me, whiskey—has a trace of the sacred. After all, it brings people together, forges friendships and shared experiences, and provides the courage to confide and grow intimacy, and that is something downright holy.

Thanks to Jackie for making this month’s column warmer by sharing her experiences.
1, & Fred Minnick’s Bourbon: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of an American Whiskey.

Abby H. aka @flaskandpen
Abby H., curiously handled @flaskandpen on Instagram, is an English teacher with a flair for the dramatic (who’da thunk?!). After teaching in Vegas for years, she has bounced around, and is now in Kuwait after time in Beijing, China and the more mundane-when-there’s-no-hurricane Jacksonville, FL, where the craft cocktail scene led to a new love for whiskey. Bourbon, in particular, with its smokey charred barrels, thrills her the most. 
Bourbon Nuggets
The countdown for the 2018 New Orleans Bourbon Festival is down to just days. Get those tickets if you haven't done so already. We have ours!
And finally...
Bourbon Back Label
by Evan Haskill

Check it out on the Instagrams, it’s the next big thing. It might even be the current big thing, who am I to say? I like it. I do sometimes refer to it jokingly as Bourbon Slack Label. Why? Well, it’s currently my biggest contribution (besides this lovely column) to the world of bourbon. I used to co-own a podcast network, host 3 podcasts, manage multiple social media platforms AND provide funny pictures for this very publication. Who can do all that??? Steve Akley, sure, but what HUMAN can do all that? Not me.

My head started to hurt. Life was moving at too fast of a clip and I couldn’t keep up. The world was spinning and I wanted to get off. I tried my hand at several different ways of staying involved, a blog, a new podcast, a new IG account, all under the ABV banner, this was the only thing that stuck. I hope you’re enjoying my meager contribution as I am!

But Bourbon Back Label, or for you social media savvy readers #bourbonbacklabel, there was something familiar and easy. Grab the bottle, take a picture, type it out and… post! But it’s not just easy, it may even be necessary, or, helpful. I wanted to stay relevant in the bourbon world by reviving the old hashtag I used from time to time in my previous life and turn it into a brand.

The point of BBL is simple, we all pretty much know what the front of a bourbon label looks and that’s what we like to show off on IG, Facebook and to friends touring our bar... but the back label, that’s where all the excitement is: the history, the stories, in some cases the flat out lies! I didn’t want to see another picture of Pappy smoking, I want to see him golfing! I didn’t need another shot of Elmer T. Lee, I needed his story! The back label my friends is where you find the little nuggets of bourbon lore. It's the money shot, don’t sleep on it.

The next time you’re about to post a killer bottle consider turning it around and sharing the back label, I sure would think that’s cool. Check out @bourbonbacklabel and learn about bourbon, one paragraph at a time. #bourbonbacklabel: simply educating, simply.

About Evan Haskill
Evan Haskill is the former co-host of The Bourbon Show and The Bourbon Daily. He left his role at the ABV Network to spend more time with his two young children. We are pleased to have him on the Bourbon Zeppelin staff. You can follow him online running the 311 Youth Housing page on Instagram: @311YouthHousing
Further Reading...
by Colonel Steve Akley
I have launched a blog on under the "Cool Muses" section called, "Our Bourbon Journey. It's a combination of my personal bourbon journey, the journey of my team at the ABV Network, what's happening at the ABV Network and bourbon reviews.

If you love Bourbon Zeppelin, you are going to also love this blog. Check it out today!
Items from Steve and the Bourbon Zeppelin team
Bourbon Mixology is author Steve Akley's best selling book of all-time. The premise is simple: have 50 iconic bars share their signature bourbon cocktail. The bars selected do not fail to impress with their unique takes on some classic drinks and well as some very original creations.

The book literally becomes a travel companion piece as you will want to see out these bars on your next business trip or vacation. Get your copy right now!
Buy Now
Bourbon Mixology Volume 4 is author Steve Akley's newest bourbon cocktail book. In this edition, 50 craft distilleries share signature bourbon cocktails made with their bourbon. 

Grab your copy today!
Buy Now
Mules and More takes a look at beer cocktails which have increased in popularity with the resurgence of the Moscow Mule. In this book, 40 craft breweries share their signature beer cocktail. 

Grab your copy today!
Buy Now
We are always looking for interesting things from the world of bourbon. If you have something you would like to write about, or think we should be writing about, just send us a note!
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The only way you can ensure you get every issue of B.Z. is by having it delivered directly to your email inbox on the first of every month. If you want to receive the bourbon magazine of newsletters written for bourbon fans by bourbon fans, simply
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Bourbon Zeppelin is a 25-times yearly newsletter publication sent out to the 80,000+ social media followers of author Steve Akley (monthly plus a special "Black Friday Gift-Giving Edition"). If you would like to have any questions about the publication, would like to say, "Hello" or you are interested in promoting your product/brand via Bourbon Zeppelin, please email Steve.
The Bourbon Zeppelin Sample Policy
Bourbon Zeppelin accepts product samples in exchange for a fair and honest review by a B.Z. team member or members.

The Bourbon Zeppelin Jack Daniel's Policy
We love it. While it's classified as "Tennessee Whiskey" it's treated with the same as any other bourbon here.
By the way, the same goes for George Dickel (we love them, too!)
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Whenever talking about Bourbon Zeppelin on social media, be sure to use this hashtag:


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Also, be sure to LIKE us on our Facebook (Bourbon Zeppelin)!
364 Likes as of February 15, up from 342 on January 15. Help us get more!
Goal = 1,000,000 Likes (0.000364 of goal achieved so far)
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Gold Status -

Diamond Status - Erik Hasselgärde

Pappy Status - Corby Harris, William Reigle, Sandy Akley, Stacey Spears, Derek Haas & Tom Szydelko.
Bourbon Zeppelin - The Team
In addition to the guest contributors, Bourbon Zeppelin has an incredible staff in addition to editor and publisher Steve Akley. Steve's daughter Cat runs the BZ Facebook page. The writing team includes the following Columnists: Renee Howe, Abby H., Noah Hughes, Six Feet of Dynamite, Aaron Cave, Evan Haskill, Andrea Holak, Greg Schneider, John Edwards, Zac Smith, Thomas Springston and Tanya Lawrence.

Interested in joining the B.Z. team as a contributor? If so, just email Steve Akley to talk about it!
Special thanks to the following individuals who are involved in the production of Bourbon Zeppelin yet help us promote the brand just because they are fans of our work: Larry Akley (#1), Henry Rimpler (#2), TJ Ivey (#11), Rommel Morales (#12) and Matt Walker (#13), Blue Dram (#14), Andrew McGuinness (#15), Chris Lojkovic (#16) & Jay Reed (#17), Ashley Ommen (#18), Rebecca Fitzgerald (#19), Jeff Couch (#20), Greg Schneider (#21), Rodney Johnson (#22), Erik Hasselgärde (#23), Jeff Franks (#24), Cat Akley (#25), Jenna Brownson (#26), Rob Brownson (#27), Bill Alexander (#28), Chris McKeon (#29), Joe Bartucca (#30), Brent Kauser (#31), Jonathan Gorab (#32), Jessie Hernandez (#33), Ben Pyatt (#34), Michael Devecka (#35), @bourbonwedrink (#36) Tony Freund (#37),@Slo_MO_Que (#38), Kevin Ronecker (#39)

Why do Ambassador numbers skip to #11?
#1 and #2 are ceremonial. One goes to Steve Akley's father who passed away in 2012 and two goes to Hasse Berg's grandfather who passed away in 2013. Numbers 3 - 10 are being saved for yet-to-be-determined fans who really go the extra mile to show their love to Bourbon Zeppelin!

Find out about becoming a Bourbon Zeppelin Brand Ambassador by clicking here!
Bourbon Zeppelin Reprint Policy
Bourbon Zeppelin authorizes bloggers and newsfeeds to reprint its content without authorization, providing these two stipulations are met:
  1. Bourbon Zeppelin is noted as the creator of content (Please include issue number/month/year)
  2. When an author is listed for an individual article, that person is also acknowledged as well
Copyright © 2018 Bourbon Zeppelin, All rights reserved.

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Bourbon Zeppelin is delivered to you raw an unedited by author Steve Akley on the 1st and 15th of every month. (Apologies for any errors.) Check out Steve's books by clicking here: Steve's Catalog on Amazon.