Happy Birthday, Bourbon Elvis

Jimmy Russell is Bourbon Elvis (sans white jump suit).  He is the rock star of Bourbon rock stars.  The celebrity of Bourbon celebrities.  The master distiller’s Master Distiller.  Today is Jimmy’s birthday.  Long live The King.

Lots of people have Jimmy Russell stories.  I have a few of them myself, but will try to limit this post to a couple and avoid tangents into others.  Otherwise, we may be here awhile.

Jimmy and me. Best of friends.

I first met Jimmy on June 16, 2018.  (I realize that isn’t that long ago, but I’m fairly new to Bourbon.)  It was the 10th anniversary celebration for Westport Whiskey & Wine in Louisville and it was hot.  It was fry-an-egg-on-your-forehead, sweat-through-your-underwear kind of hot.  Despite the heat, there is Jimmy Russell:  Wiping his sweat on a scarf and tossing it to the crowd (he didn’t really do that).  But, Jimmy was there.  He was there to support Chris Zaborowski and Rich Splan, the owners of Westport.  And he was there to meet Bourbon fans like me.  He sat under that tent for four hours shaking hands, smiling and answering the same questions a hundred different times with an enthusiasm like it was the first time he had heard it.  All the while, Jimmy was just sweating it out with us commoners.

The most recent time I saw Jimmy was almost a year later: June 13, 2019.  Jimmy was again at Westport Whiskey & Wine, but this time with his son, Eddie, and his grandson, Bruce.  They weren’t promoting anything specific.  They were just there to share a few pours while taking some pictures and talking Bourbon with Wild Turkey fans.  My older son and I were sure to get a picture with the Russells.  The three generations of Russells with two generations of Roses.  At the time, my son and his wife were expecting so the third generation Rose was on his way.  My grandson was born just a few days shy of sharing a birthday with Jimmy.  So, join me in raising a glass of something Wild Turkey for Jimmy’s birthday.  Here’s to many more years, many more stories and many more Bourbons.  Cheers, Jimmy, and thank you.  Thank you very much.

Families photo: Three generations of Russells. Two generations of Roses with the third on the way.

When you drink Wild Turkey you can’t help but think of Jimmy and all he means to the world of Bourbon. Raise a glass and give a cheer for Jimmy any time you’re sipping Wild Turkey, but especially on his birthday.

Kevin Rose

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