My best friend, Matt, is getting married next week. As the first of our friend group to tie the knot, the occasion spells a new chapter in not only his life, but ours as well.
As a bunch of 25-year-old guys, we have reached a stage in our lives where being a man is more important than ever. But, what does being a man really mean? It’s a question that many have asked, but few have been able to truly define.
As the best man and with that thought in mind, I wondered to myself what kind of coming-of-age party could I throw that would truly propel us all into manhood? After creating a list of essential elements for the occasion, Scotch came to mind – and what brand could be better than the prestigious Johnnie Walker.
After establishing a date with the groomsmen and confirming our Johnnie Walker ambassador, Dante, the stage was set. It was time to turn these 12 guys into gentlemen (or, at least, I hoped). Dante thought, what better way to connect with a bunch of men that likely regularly consumed alcohol, and more than enjoyed it, would be to build a sense of connection to the entrepreneurial spirit of a young farm lad from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland.
The Johnnie Walker story begins with the man who gave a whisky his name. The year was 1819 and John Walker’s father had just died. A tough start for a humble farm boy, John was determined to make his late father proud. With a glint in his eye and a fire in his belly, he started blending single malt whiskies.
With consistency as the goal, John made a product that was far superior to the offering at the time. As years passed, it became known across the land. In 1857, John passed away and left his son, Alexander, with a mission to keep the family business alive. With the Industrial Revolution on the horizon, Alexander saw a golden opportunity. With railroads and ships finally traveling around the world, Alexander would give his first commercial label, “Old Highland Whisky” to the captains of these vessels. With time, the small Scottish brand with the label on a 24 degree angle grew globally.
In 1909, Alexander passed the family business onto his two sons, who renamed the brand as the one we know today.After narrating the Scotch’s humble beginnings, our JW ambassador, Dante, then walked us through the three most popular labels they carry: Red, Black, and Blue. Each of the Scotch’s had different tasting notes and slowly, but surely, I saw my friends become more and more comfortable with the process. By the end of the evening, the conversation became more about the drinking experience and less about, well, drinking.
As Matt’s wedding draws closer, I’m glad we got to share this experience together. With our newfound, refined knowledge of Johnnie Walker, I’m sure our friendships will age like a fine Scotch.
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