It was late October. The leaves were still green in Brooklyn while upstate New York was exploding with pops of red, yellow, and orange. Autumn colors crept south the way flame eats across paper. It was Saturday morning. A friend of my friend Dan was having a party upstate. Dan needed a ride. My brother had a car. The math was simple. Dan procured two more invitations for my brother and me.
Short on funds and not wanting to pay for a hotel, our plan was to camp that Saturday night after the party and then drive home Sunday. It was perfect. The fall foliage was out and the summer bugs were not. Our plan was about to get better though. You know what goes great with camping and campfire? Whiskey.
Being newly twenty-one I had never had whiskey. This seemed like a golden opportunity. Twenty minutes and twelve-dollars later I was the proud owner of my first Bourbon. The fact that it was Bourbon was based mostly on the fact that it was twelve-dollars. You know, short on funds and what not.
We spent the rest of the morning getting our gear together. It was early afternoon by the time we loaded the car and started north. Then we drove. And drove. And drove some more. Dan told me the party was upstate. He didn’t tell me it was six hours upstate. By the time we arrived, the party was half over. That’s ok. We were still going to camp and enjoy nature and whiskey. Or so I thought.
It was twelve-thirty in the morning when we left the party. And it was raining. No. Pouring frigid thirty-four-degree sheets of water. Camping was a definite no. What now? We hadn’t made any other lodging arrangements. Drive back home was all we could do.
It was seven a.m. on Sunday when I finally trudged through my front door. Angry, exhausted, and wet I grabbed my unopen bottle of whiskey and a glass. Oh, after the last twenty-three hours I had just experienced, the whiskey was happening. I poured a shot of Very Old Barton and downed it in two sips. What was it like? I thought, “Hmm…so that’s what whiskey tastes like,” and went to bed. And that was the first whiskey I ever had.
What about you? What’s your first whiskey story? I'd love to hear in the comments below!
— Zac Smith