2020: A Year in [Whiskey] Review

Whew!  What a ride 2020 was.  Looking back over the last dozen pages in the calendar, I realize the common theme is generally a combination of negativity mingled with forward-looking optimism for brighter days ahead.  I think that’s an obvious–and cathartic–view that nearly everyone on the planet will be able to relate to.  2020 will forever stand out in our individual and collective memories for the remainder of our lives, and surely will be studied for generations to come.  After the incredible year we’ve experienced I wanted to take a step back and focus on a few of the moments that shone through the darkness.  I’m not saying that it was an amazing year for myself or my family, but I think there were points throughout the year that brought unexpected smiles to our faces as well as precious moments (with friends and family as well as bourbon) that are worth reflecting on.  Grab a pour of the good stuff and let’s take a look back, so we can more easily move forward.


John H.




January 8th, 2021


Take a moment to think about what makes you happy.  Personally I love the changing seasons we experience here in Maine, and sharing the magic of each season with my family.  Warm summer days and camp fires right down to throwing snowballs with my kids in the frigid winter months.

This love of seasons can be grafted onto the bourbon hobby quite easily when considering seasonal releases, limed editions, and new products finally making it to shelves in my State.  Each of those things represents the wind of change and–as such–each one has the potential to be memorable.

2020 brought plenty of inconvenience and, in many cases, uncertainty. Alongside the struggles were the shining moments. Limited edition whiskeys like Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 17 Year Bottled-in-Bond, sourced and hotly debated releases like Four Gate Foundation (Batch 3), and (of course) things that receive equal parts love and hate like Weller Single Barrel were all highlights in my year. These were products I had no reasonable expectation of getting my hands on, yet here they are. To quote Matthew McConaughey: “Greenlight”.

Speaking of Matthew McConaughey (Creative Director at Wild Turkey) he released a book called Greenlights where the above quote came from. It’s absolutely phenomenal and if I reviewed books as well as whiskey I’d likely give it my first (and only to date) A+.

Limited Editions, sharing samples, reviewing new products, and bringing bourbon to new friends has made 2020 special to me.  What silver lining did you find through the past year?  Hit me on Instagram or Twitter with bottles you’ve enjoyed, books you’ve read, or other ways you and your family made the best of things.

In 2020 I had the distinct pleasure, and indeed honor, of developing a website for another author and friend who launched a new book. Wild Turkey authority and super fan David Jennings released American Spirit: Wild Turkey Bourbon from Ripy to Russell. I believe it’s among the best sources out there for not only Wild Turkey Bourbon history, but American Whiskey history itself.

Whiskey history and American history are so closely intertwined that the blurry edges of either genre are all-but indistinguishable and I love reading about it. Along the same vein of bourbon and history-based reading, I also enjoyed Fred Minnick’s Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey and I began the highly-acclaimed Wright Thompson book: Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last.

In other forms of media, and in conjunction with good friend of mine Jay “T8ke” West, I launched a live stream that airs on YouTube every Tuesday. We dubbed the production “Weekly Whiskey“. Clever lot, we are, right? Ha! Jay and I had been discussing the possibility of a collaborative work for quite some time, but with the circumstances surrounding us (and everyone else) this year, we decided it was time to abide the old Nike slogan and just do it. Jay also migrated to taking a role as Managing Editor & Spirits Critic for Whiskey Raiders, essentially the Rotten Tomatoes for whiskey. Things were quite busy!

To wrap up the year of streaming we invited Kenny Coleman and Ryan Cecil (co-hosts, Bourbon Pursuit Podcast and co-founders of Pursuit Spirits) to announce their latest line extension: Pursuit United.

Weekly Whiskey: Announcing Pursuit United


I’m glad to take the time to reflect on the past year.  My family is happy and healthy, and there’s little more I could ask for; however, I’m also lucky enough to see more and more of my friends getting involved with American whiskey, and allowing me to share that with them.

The fine readers of this very website have shared my writing with their friends (for which I’m greatly honored) and the analytics have shown significant growth every single month.  I can’t thank you, the reader, enough for coming here to get whiskey content.

Throughout 2021 and beyond I hope to deliver you content you find satisfying, and to connect with you on both Instagram and YouTube.

If you’re interested in catching up with Jay and I, and seeing what our great guests have to say, pop into the chat on a Tuesday evening at 9PM (East) or if you’d like a slightly more laid-back (and sometimes hilarious) video, we release “After Hours” episodes Thursday mornings at 9AM.

Let’s continue looking forward and taking the time to enjoy great whiskey and great company.  Cheers!

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