Bourbon is meant to be enjoyed. So is a great craft beer. So is life… Enjoy life!
“It’s not about the whiskey. It’s about the lives you touch and the people you meet. The whiskey is the byproduct of a good relationship.”Freddie Johnson
Those are the sage words of Freddie Johnson. They are the same words that cast us on our Living a Stout Life journey. We simply apply them to craft beer and the people we meet in our travels.
Freddie Johnson is a third generation employee at Buffalo Trace Distillery. If you’re familiar with the world of bourbon, you may not know Freddie, but you surely know Buffalo Trace, one of the longtime leaders in the industry.
It’s not about bourbon, it’s about enjoying life
But I’m not writing to you today about bourbon. I’m writing to you about the words of wisdom handed down through Freddie’s family and found their way into a documentary called “Neat: The Story of Bourbon.”
As I’ve traveled my own journey from appreciating good craft beer to enjoying a warm glass of bourbon, I watched Neat simply to expand my understanding of this great American spirit. I learned a lot about bourbon, but I grasped more tightly to Freddie’s words. They connected deeply with why April and I began our travels in the first place. We like to connect with other people and share experiences.
We have a strong core of friends and family from our sticks and bricks life in Colorado that we cherish deeply. We have more friends that we’ve met along the way as we travel in our motorhome, RAIF.
It’s still sometimes easy to slip into that mode of taking it all for granted. We have the day-to-day grind of work, chores, and doing the mundane things that simply need to be done. So it’s easy to fall into thinking that meeting with friends is simply what you do. We’re just hanging out. Let’s save that special $25 bottle of beer or $150 bottle of bourbon for later… for something special.
Everyday life is something special, something to be enjoyed
Well, you know what? Every day with family and friends is special. We rarely get to know when the end comes, when we’re going to move on from the existence we know today into a tomorrow that is lacking your best friend, your father or mother, your sister or brother. Every day you spend with someone you care about is a special day that is meant to be enjoyed and savored, like that highly sought after bottle that has been stored in the cellar.
So when you’re thinking of skipping that bike ride with your buddies or simply hanging out on the porch with friends, remember Freddie’s words. Or better yet, remember the words of his father, Jimmy, who said to never skimp on that good bottle of bourbon to save it for the future… and he was talking about a bottle that has been valued at about $2,000. (Yes bourbonites, we’re talking about Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year.)
Never, ever do that with friends and family
“Never, ever do that with friends and family. There will always be more old barrels of bourbon being made. Look at me and look at your brother, we are the fragile part of this whole thing. So never save old bottles of bourbon. They’re meant to be enjoyed with friends and family at the moment.”Jimmy Johnson, Jr.
Freddie and his family’s story is scattered throughout the documentary, but the words above are from the moving final 3 minutes or so of Neat that blew me away. So much so that I audio recorded it on my phone so I could share it with my wife and my friends, not one of which has listened to it and finished with a dry eye.
The clip below is the video version that the moviemakers released on YouTube. I’d love for you to watch. It’s only a couple of minutes, but it is Freddie’s moving story beyond bourbon. They are words of wisdom with which to live life.
Don’t hold things back for the future. Our lives our now. Our lives our meant to be lived; they’re meant to be enjoyed.