Happy New Year to all of you, and what a new year this has been so far. I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday filled with something special in every glass you had. The world of whiskey continues to accelerate forward and I continue to find myself in the thick of it. Last year I went through a lot of change, and although much of it was challenging, one of those changes was a new job which I just started at the beginning of 2017, and I couldn’t be happier. Located in the heart of the Financial District of San Francisco, I now work for Future Bars, specifically Cask, where I will be utilizing and applying my skills and knowledge in social media marketing while also increasing my understanding of aged and un-aged spirits by selling said spirits which I hold dearly.
Another change is to this blog; I am very proud to introduce to you my good friend, and now fellow contributor at Bourbon and House, Jason Barnhart. Approaching the ever increasing and diversified world of whiskey can be daunting, and as all of you probably know, it’s always better to share a glass with a friend, for me that includes analyzing and reviewing as well. Jason will be helping me by doing some reviews, with an emphasis on Irish and single malt whiskey. We met several years ago while working together in the spirits industry, and quickly became close through our love for good whiskey. I have met few people with his tenacity to learn and help others learn about Irish whiskey, and he will be a valuable asset here.
In his own words, here is Jason:
Hey there. I am Jason Barnhart, Jack to some and I am 27 (going on 28) years old and a big whiskey fan. My journey into the golden dram started all the way back to when I turned 21, when a really good family friend got me a bottle of Balvenie 12 year old DoubleWood for the celebration. In those moments I didn’t know anything about the differences in whiskey let alone different spelling, the tasting or region. At first the drink was harsh, I never had anything like it and it was awful (at first), then over many, many months of trying it I became more accustomed to it. During that time I had another friend of the family bring me a bottle of Feckin Irish whiskey and it was vastly different than that of the scotch. Sadly, my father and some of our other, older friends had their way with the Irish whiskey before I had gotten the chance to really get to know it.
Sometime after this event our family friend decided to get me a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey to replace the bottle that was lost to me. It was a breathtaking moment for me as at the time, it was late in the year and I had only really begun to dive into the world of whiskey. Over the course of the next 3 years I would drink mostly Irish whiskey, as to me it was the best tasting one. I would always have my eyes set on the next vintage of Jameson, until one day I was able to acquire a bottle of Jameson 18 year old and man, was it a completely different whiskey.
Over the next few years I would learn all I could about the various styles of Irish whiskey, as to me, it has an incredible history from its rise, fall and resurgence as a legendary drink. In time, I would come to appreciate the single pot still whiskeys considering them the best, being full bodied with a vast array of softer notes than that of bourbon or scotch (not to say that I don’t like any of these), it’s just that I prefer to have this style over the rest – even the Irish single malts to me are better than that of the scotches, but if given the choice, i’ll take an Irish single pot still every time.
Also, I got involved with mixology at the age of 20. Some friends one morning decided it would be “cool” to start drinking at 9 in the morning. They used a tequila and some kind of energy drink and threw those into an old water bottle. There was also an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels on the table. I thought to myself “What would happen if I added some of this to their drink?” To everyone’s surprise, it worked out great. By 11 in the morning they were hammered and in no condition to drive, and another friend of ours would go on to make me drive him to work as I had not yet tried my hand at drinking until I was 21 so then a few bottles of whiskey later, and some other outrageous mixology incidents, here I am now!
And so here we are, looking forward to exploring even deeper into the world of whiskey, having now an even greater vision with multiple points of reference, thanks to Jason’s oncoming contributions with Bourbon and House. I look forward to reviewing and talking more about single malt whiskey this year too, as it was single malt Scotch that started my journey into whiskey. I’m making it a point to post more frequently too, as I will have more time not only outside work but at work as well, to review and assess more whiskey – perks of the new job you could say.
Sláinte and Happy New Year!