Walker Percy on Bourbon
You don’t need a reason to drink Bourbon, and nobody should ask you to provide an excuse for wanting to drink Bourbon on a Wednesday afternoon. But if you do find yourself wanting reasons and/or feeling pressured to provide excuses may I suggest “Bourbon” by Walker Percy. Percy’s essay discusses the beauty of a shot of Bourbon.
As the first line of the Percy’s essay sates, “Bourbon” is not written by an expert (so the know it all whiskey snobs out there can go elsewhere). Instead, Percy provides us with an overview of the beauty of Bourbon and the benefits of knocking back a shot. These aesthetic benefits range from enjoying the taste to dealing with the “…anomie of the late twentieth century…” (and several points in between). Percy also provides us with several examples of how Bourbon played a variety of roles in his life. These examples provide those of us who imbibe Bourbon an opportunity to reflect about the various roles Bourbon plays in our lives.
Percy’s examples got me thinking about some of my own experiences with Bourbon. I remember my Pops buying a few jars of moonshine in Harlan County decades ago (I wonder what Percy would have thought of the taste). I think of canoe and camping trips with a bottle in my backpack, of weddings and funerals with flasks being passed around. Bourbon played an important and unique role in each of these and many other memories. If you put each of Percy’s aesthetic benefits in a checklist, I would be able to tick each box. If you enjoy an occasional (or frequent) shot then Walker Percy’s essay about the beauty and benefits of Bourbon is for you. And if anybody asks for a reason or excuse for why you enjoy that shot paraphrase Percy and let him or her know the effect of the shot is secondary to the joy of the shot.
“Bourbon” from Signposts in a Strange Land by Walker Percy