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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.