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If Kentucky basketball was a bourbon list


Today the United States of America celebrates bourbon, the country’s native spirit. While many parts of the world do not often appreciate the spicy, woody, nutty, smooth whiskey, we here in Kentucky get to experience its glory regularly. Most of the finest bourbons in the world are distilled right here in our own backyard. Some people play exorbitant amounts for small bottles of the Bluegrass elixir. At parties, at home, with friends, or by yourself, whatever the reason you choose to drink bourbon, today is the day we raise a glass of the sweetened corn nectar in honor of itself. Cheers.

In the spirit of National Bourbon Day, we examine the 2013 Kentucky Wildcats basketball roster, and assign a bourbon whiskey to every player. For some, the connection may be obvious. For others, I implore you to use your imagination.


makers  Andrew Harrison: Maker’s Mark

An old reliable that every bourbon drinker has experienced at least once. Reliable is what the Wildcats will need from their point guard.

turkey  Jarrod Polson: Wild Turkey 101

A bourbon which offers much more than the price may lead you to believe. You’re getting way more than you expect with this one, just like Polson gave us a season ago.

larceny  Dominique Hawkins: Larceny

Hawkins isn’t the newest new guy on the squad, but he hasn’t been around for long. Larceny hit the shelves in 2012 and many drinkers are just now discovering its beauty.

kg  Tod Lanter: Kentucky Gentleman

Look, this bourbon sucks. Not that Lanter sucks. We like him. But this list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the college kids’ favorite. Plus, he’s from our great state. He is a true Kentucky Gentleman.

wathens  Aaron Harrison: Wathen’s

Aaron has been slighted a bit in favor of his brother, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play. You’ve probably never heard of this bourbon, but once you try it, you’ll never put it down.

buffalotrace  James Young: Buffalo Trace White Dog

This “bourbon” is so young it has to go here. This un-aged, some might call it, moonshine, is a unique twist to the whiskey that many distillers are producing now.

jimbeam  Sam Malone: Jim Beam

Every team needs a solid everyday (practice) player. Malone is just that for the team; a body in practice that helps the squad. Jim Beam sits next to the expensive bourbons to make them look better.

evan williams  Brian Long: Evan Williams

Much like Malone, Long is that solid guy in practice that boosts everybody else up. Evan Williams isn’t a bad bourbon, but it doesn’t quite stack up to the rest.

blantons  Alex Poythress: Blanton’s

A fine bourbon with a precise bottling line where the contents of barrels are not mixed. This single barrel bourbon is high quality and when enjoyed neat or on the rocks, can be unmatched.

granddad  Jon Hood: Old Grand Dad

Hood is the old man on the squad as a redshirt senior. He’s seen it all. The Old Grand Dad bourbon whiskey has been around since 1840, and while Hood isn’t quite that old… he is the closest.

town branch  EJ Floreal: Town Branch

This Lexington native deserves nothing more than a Lexington spirit. Town Branch is a new distillery, currently using Buffalo Trace liquor until their barrels have aged properly.

pappy  Julius Randle: Pappy Van Winkle 23 year

Regarded as one of the finest bourbons in the world, Pappy is the cream of the crop. Randle has that potential to be one of the most dominant players in college basketball.

oldforester  Kyle Wiltjer: Old Forester

Wiltjer has been around while and usually flies under the radar. Old Forester is one of those inexpensive bourbons that get you a whole lot of bang for your buck.

elijah craig  Derek Willis: Elijah Craig

This bourbon is no swill, though the price may suggest it. Elijah Craig is a mid-shelf bourbon that appeals to the premium market. Like Willis appealing to Calipari.

willet  Willie Cauley-Stein: Willet Pot Still Reserve

This single barrel bourbon is carefully crafted, bottled, sealed, and labeled. More importantly, its decorative tall decanter fits the profile of Cauley-Stein to a T. Plus, “Willet” … “Willie” … Close enough.


  Dakari Johnson: Hudson Baby

This bourbon was the first to be distilled in New York — Johnson’s home state. What’s more, he is one of the babies (in terms of age) on this year’s squad.

elmertlee  Marcus Lee: Elmer T. Lee

It’s not a cheap bourbon, but it’s one you might pass over in favor of less or more expensive brands. Lee — the basketball player — is not to be overlooked this coming season, and Lee — the bourbon — shouldn’t be either.


Disclaimer: Many of the players on Kentucky’s basketball roster are underage. Despite the comparisons to bourbon, I do not condone underage drinking. It is against the law.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

42 Comments for If Kentucky basketball was a bourbon list

  1. Anal Retentive
    3:03 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Bourbon is only bourbon if it is made in Kentucky.

  2. ken gatton
    3:04 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    I think sam malone should be the bar tender

  3. Old Pogue Bourbon
    3:33 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    WHAT!!?? No Old Pogue Bourbon?

  4. JackB
    3:39 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Bourbon does not have be made in Kentucky, though almost all of it is.

    From Wikipedia since it is easier to cut and paste than type, but consistent with what I already knew to be the case:

    The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5) state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be:
    made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn;
    aged in new, charred-oak barrels;
    distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume);
    entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume); and be
    bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume).

    Bourbon has no minimum specified duration for its aging period. Products aged for as little as three months are sold as bourbon.

    Bourbon that meets the above requirements, has been aged for a minimum of two years, and does not have added coloring, flavoring, or other spirits may (but is not required to) be called straight bourbon.
    Bourbon that is labeled as straight that has been aged under four years must be labeled with the duration of its aging.
    Bourbon that has an age stated on its label must be labeled with the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle (not counting the age of any added neutral grain spirits in a bourbon that is labeled as blended, as neutral-grain spirits are not considered whiskey under the regulations and are not required to be aged at all).

    Bourbon that is labeled blended (or as ‘a blend’) may contain added coloring, flavoring, and other spirits (such as un-aged neutral grain spirits); but at least 51% of the product must be straight bourbon.

  5. SMH
    3:39 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Hammer, anybody who can write an article this long obviously has a passion for writing. Why don’t you find a worthwhile subject, and just write your ass off?
    But this ain’t it. What a waste of your time and ours.

  6. Bummer
    3:46 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t do this anymore.

  7. The Dude
    3:46 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    #4, Saying somthing like that in Kentucky is a great way to lose some teeth.

  8. Bob
    3:50 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    The world will never rid itself of drug addiction until its most abused drugs are seen as such including alcohol.

  9. JoeMoney333
    3:51 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    #4 is correct, sorry #1. …Also where is the Big House crap Shannon’s been selling!?

  10. bleaker
    3:54 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    0.9/10. Dumb azz post, again. Current writers please refer to early articles on this site for ideas

  11. Tampa Satchel
    3:54 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Of course bourbon doesn’t need to be made in KY, though I haven’t had too many really good one’s that weren’t.

    I was sad to see my favorite, Booker’s, not included, especially since I always enjoy it with ball ice. Maker’s for everyday use and Booker’s when I have a guest who can appreciate the good stuff.

  12. soggyUKgrad
    3:56 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Bourbon can be made anywhere. Stuart, you don’t need an apostrophe to make a plural noun (bourbon’s?!?!?).

  13. Wut
    3:58 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Bump. No Woodford Reserve… Blasphemy

  14. Basil Hayden
    4:03 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Phooey for leaving me off.

  15. coleman gaines
    4:05 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    #4–What happened to “bottled in bond” bourbon? It had to be 100 proof and at least 4 years old. At least it was that way when I worked at Old Crow and Old Taylor distilleries at Millville (just outside of Frankfort) in the mid 1940’s.

  16. dude
    4:07 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Makers was always loyal to UK and now seem to be only loyal to money. First they tried to lower the alcohol proof and now they make commemorative bottles for Slick Rick/UL. Makers was always a just little an average bourbon, but I stuck with it because of the UK connection and loyalty. There are far better tasting bourbons out there so I wont be drinking a drop of Makers anytime soon. Fuggum’

  17. jcatron
    4:13 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Too bad we dont have a Mexican that could be Four Roses.

  18. Todd
    4:18 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Somebody get Stu a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler, because he doesn’t know crap about bourbon. Should have went with flag day. National Bourbon Day is for non posers!!!!

  19. ukgags
    4:30 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    #15 – Henry McKenna has a premium version with the “bottled in bond” and a metal twist tie and info on it. It wa son the 7 year and it was shockingly good.

    #11 – I drink bookers with a single cube from a King Cube tray 2″x2″

  20. Biglaw Dawgin'
    4:30 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    This is awesome. Hey, has anyone ever tried WL Weller Special Reserve? Probably the smoothest and best tasting bourbon I’ve had. Also a great price.

  21. Biglaw Dawgin'
    4:35 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    4 – Maybe true, but if you’re buying bourbon made outside of KY, you can go ahead and kick yourself in the nuts. It’s like buying wine from Canada, or furniture from China.

  22. Ridge Runner
    4:38 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Pretty cool post, Stuart.

  23. Ridge Runner
    4:39 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    16, I like Makers but yeah, I know what ya mean.

  24. cracka
    4:40 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    woodford? come on …

  25. ukgags
    4:40 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Tend to agree with #21. You just should not buy a whiskey unless it says Kentucky Straight Bourbon somewhere on the label

  26. Thrashitup
    5:15 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    20 – The Weller 12 year is top notch, and damn near impossible to find. I always grab a few bottles when I see them, as they’re only shipped a few times a year. Eagle Rare is also delicious, and of the same vein

  27. Todd
    5:27 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    17) please elaborate more. If by mexican you mean whiskey magazine’s Distiller of the Year the last 3 years then right on. If not you might just be a racist!

  28. CatsFanFrankfort
    5:41 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    I love when people comment that an article is ‘a waste of their time’. (Lookin’ at you #5). It only makes that person seem much more foolish for wasting their own time reading an article they dont like. Dont read the damn thing if you suspect it will be a waste of time! I like these sorts of articles: I enjoy both basketball and bourbon, and reading something relating the two is at least mildly entertaining, and harkens back to the old character of this site. Keep on keepin’ on, Stuart.

  29. coolioo
    6:03 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Woodford is really just Old Forrestor. The Brand that Larceny orginates is Old Fitz, one of the oldest brands and one of the orginal Wheated Bourbons!

  30. MacGruber
    6:16 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    8. I’ll drink to that!

  31. DesignatedDrinker
    7:34 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    So, no Woodford? You must not be much of a drinker. Not to mention you used Maker’s Mark, who has done nothing but give money and sponsor UL for the last few years. Woodford is just Old Forrestor……..bahahahhahahahaha. And Coolio was hip, right? Will never buy Makers again. Sell outs…

  32. cat-o-9
    7:43 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    #29…you are dead wrong. Woodford reserve is made from scratch by the Woodford Reserve distillery in Woodford County (Versailles). Old Forester is made by Brown-Forman distillery in Louisville.

  33. Jjbalaan
    7:45 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Old pogue is by far the best and its not even close. “Old pogue bourbon” what is your relation to that brand bc I see you post on here often..

  34. DesignatedDrinker
    7:49 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    For the record, Old Forester and Woodford are owned by the same company. One is distilled in Louisville. One in Versailles. They are both aged in Versailles. The rumor above was started by jealous competition. Cheers.

  35. DesignatedDrinker
    7:50 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Ha. Yep #32

  36. Bunny
    7:59 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Buffalo Trace is the best bourbon!

  37. James in Ann Arbor
    8:14 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Oh yeah! Walking to the liquor cabinet as I type this reply. Doh! Woodford for me tonight. Gave Blantons to the father-in-law for Christmas. I thought it was excellent. Will spring for one of favorites in the comment section soon. Always reminds me of good times with good friends back in Bullitt County.

  38. Go Cats
    8:21 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    Four Roses -Single Barrel

  39. Kayts
    8:43 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    So everytime someone scores you take a shot of that specific bourbon. Worlds toughest drinking game has been invented.

  40. Stuart Hammer
    8:54 pm June 14, 2013 Permalink

    39 – And the most expensive.

  41. A21catsFAN
    11:58 am June 15, 2013 Permalink

    Great post on Nat’l bourbon day! Yeah maybe you left a few good ones off but hey everyone’s palate and experience is a little different. And maybe we just don’t have a player that is like Woodford, or Four Roses (personally a little too much spice for my liking) and Basil Hayden played for and coached UK back in the day; so it’s tough to leave that one off. Only one complaint…Pappy 20 is better and rated better than the 23 so Julius Randle should be 20 yr old. Other than that a great read. Thanks Stu.

  42. tulei
    12:13 pm June 15, 2013 Permalink

    Pappy Van Winkle has managed to build a name for themselves as a top shelf bourbon. i’ve sipped it. it’s not good. save yourself a couple hundred dollars and get a bottle of Four Roses small batch.