A Life Worth Binge Watching

S2: This is 50  E4:The Tasting Society

I’ve never been a big drinker.  As a matter of fact, my family has given me the nickname “3 straws” because it takes me longer than anyone to finish my drink.  Apparently I need multiple straws to keep up! 

In my younger years, I was mostly a sweet wine or wine cooler kind of gal. Back in the day, we drank Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill, Zima or Bartles & Jaymes, you know, the real cheap stuff.  Then when I was a junior in college, I did a semester abroad in Italy where I quickly developed a more mature palette. You see, until I ventured overseas, I was mostly a white zinfandel drinker, and the sweeter the better.  In Italy, I am pretty sure they put wine in baby bottles.  Everyone drinks wine at room temperature and it’s preferred over soft drinks. This is where I discovered red wines at their finest.  

After college, I met an amazing friend who was in the wine business. He introduced me to other amazing grapes and became sort of a brother to me.  As far as wine goes, I was pretty knowledgeable.  When it came to liquor, I was a vodka drinker, with an occasional tequila here or there.  That pretty much summed up my drink of choice for most of my adult life.

When I became an empty nester last year, I decided to expand my horizons. 

I think the exact moment of my new lease on alcohol was a result of my love for the Yellowstone series. Beth Dutton captured my attention. She was raw.  Badass.  And she drank bourbon and whisky.  I decided that I needed to step out of my comfort zone, put on my big girl panties and give it a try.  At first it was brutal.  I started small…Jack and coke or Crown and ginger…but I just felt like a sissy.  I wanted to cringe, and I did, for a while.  Finally, I started tasting more than just the alcohol.  I tasted citrus.  I tasted spices.  I tasted the finish of the barrels.  I tasted the bourbon, and it awoke my senses.  I could now decipher between different brands and regions, and I was becoming a connoisseur!  

As time went on, my family and friends understood my new infatuation.  My parents bought me a few bottles to try, including the Yellowstone Bourbon which is still one of my favorites. It is a bit hard to find, but very flavorful.  I even convinced my “Titos Only” friend, Ashley, to try a few, even if she had to suffer a bit at first!  

Fast forward to the present time.  My newly-found love of bourbon has found a home.  A few months ago, I became one of the first members of The Volusia Bourbon Society.  I had found a couple other groups on Facebook…the Central Florida and North Florida Bourbon Societies where we attended some awesome events, but it was even better to find one here in our own backyard.  The first meeting was in New Smyrna at a comedy club next to Kenny’s liquors. It was a group of about 25 people, all with the goal of learning and networking with others with the same interests in bourbon.  The crowd consisted mostly of men, but Ashley and I were not intimidated.  I mean, come on, you know I tend to carve my own way, right?  I’m not scared.  

A few months later, we found ourselves at the latest monthly event, a tasting put on by Michter’s Whiskey at the speak-easy at Rose Villa in Ormond Beach. The membership had grown quite a bit, as the entire bar upstairs was full with bourbon enthusiasts.  The Brand Ambassador Pourer shared the specific flavors of each bottle as we tasted a few different varieties.  Rose Villa provided not only the beautiful upstairs venue, but also some delicious appetizers. 

One of the aspects I love the most about the VBS is that they sell raffle tickets for prizes that are donated, and the proceeds go to a different charity each month.  This month  we raised $690 for the Giving Beck Fund, a charity in honor of the late Judge Beck, who created the Veterans Court.  Check it out. It is really a great cause and timely as we celebrate Memorial Day.  Ironically, I won a raffle prize donated by Rose Villa, a bottle of Maker’s Mark.  I’m excited to add it to my collection.  I was also honored to stand beside the awesome group of guys that make up the board of The Volusia Bourbon Society.  

After the tasting, Ashley and I were thrilled to try the smoked old fashioned at the bar.  They have the best selection of bourbons that I have seen locally, and I loved the rose ice cube!   If you are looking to try out new bourbons, they offer half off on Wednesdays at the upstairs speak-easy!  Tell them I sent you!

Melodye Lewis is a Friday columnist for Flagler News Weekly giving you something to talk about over lunch. Follow @ALifeWorthBingeWatching on Facebook.