Kaitlyn Jo Smith

Angel Share

I think that I like bourbon for the same reasons Miranda Lambert sings about liking cigarettes; it makes me feel manly, it makes me feel human and it makes me feel like a badass, independent woman. These things are empowering and this amber liquid is nothing more than an indicator of personality, a persona I cling to in my life’s curation.

Kentucky treated us well. As soon as I found out my cousin was moving to Louisville, I made my friends promise that they would go with me to visit him along the bourbon trail. The weekend before Thanksgiving we crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky, in a pickup truck singing songs and sharing stories.

Everything about bourbon is overly romantic, from creation to consumption. The terms that follow it around strongly resonate to the wordsmith in me: Heaven’s Hill, Kentucky Hug, Devil’s Cut. When bourbon ages in its barrel, it is inevitable that some of it evaporates. This is the angel share, the bourbon that floats up to heaven, too pure for human consumption. I like the notion that even in death I can make a toast to a life well lived. We often dwell on the idea of heaven on earth but rarely flip that thought into earth on heaven. I think that a little bit of backwoods Kentucky would do the golden city a great deal of good.

What a wonderful, sadly underrated, state. Beautiful rolling hills and a hint of southern charm, then of course there is the fact that there are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky then there are people. Pro tip: if you can, find a friend under 21 to be your DD (shout out to Miss Emily). At almost every distillery we went to, anyone underage got to take the tour for free (or at least at a hefty discount). Just be sure to get them something nice for all of their troubles.

These are the pictures, shot on a disposable camera I bought for ten cents this past summer at a garage sale.

“So here’s to all those nights all we felt was life, smokin’ and drinkin’.”

-Miranda Lambert

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