Editor's Letter

Editor’s Letter: Whiskey Tales

Unforgettable moments with the South’s favorite spirit

A man wearing a navy suit sits at a bar


DiBenedetto at the bar at High Wire Distilling in Charleston.

When I lived in New York City in the late nineties, bourbon on the rocks was my go-to drink order. Besides the taste (and punch) of whiskey, I liked that it spoke to my Southern roots. Back then few bars in the city had voluminous brown water selections, as the bourbon boom as we know it hadn’t yet taken hold, and trusty Maker’s Mark with its fancy wax top usually got the nod.

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But my arrival at Garden & Gun in 2008 synced up perfectly with the groundswell. Since then I’ve been privy to some memorable bourbon moments. The most memorable? Well, that had to be at a G&G event at our Charleston, South Carolina, headquarters. After dinner, my seatmate, one Julian P. Van Winkle III, discreetly pulled from his jacket pocket a plastic water bottle filled with his favorite vintage of Pappy and asked if I could find some ice for us and those seated nearby. That, my friends, was good bourbon.

Other staffers have their own favorite bourbon memories. Senior editor CJ Lotz Diego had this to say: “At the first look for our wedding, right before the ceremony, [my fiancé] Max handed me my bridal arrangement and then poured us each a big sip of High Wire’s Jimmy Red that I brought as a surprise from Charleston to Vermont. We had to shoo away the sheep, who wanted to nibble the flowers, and a big llama named Whisky, who was curious about what we were pouring.”

David Mezz, our deputy editor, fondly remembers the Friday evening ritual he and former staffer Jed Portman observed. “We would always walk down to the Bar at Husk just after work. If you got there early enough, you could usually get a seat, and we’d order a Weller Antique (back when you could still find Weller!) and the famous Husk cheeseburger, made with a little Benton’s bacon ground into the meat. I still haven’t found a better way to kick off a weekend.”

And G&G contributing editor Jonathan Miles: “I’m just not sure any of my bourbon memories can beat my first home football game as an Ole Miss freshman, when, much to my startlement, then delight, my date reached into her Laura Ashley dress and rummaged about for a bit before presenting the half-pint of Rebel Yell she’d smuggled into the stadium. I don’t know who won the game, and I don’t know what became of the girl, but Lord do I remember how glorious that whiskey tasted in that perfect young moment.”

No doubt many of you have had your fair share of bourbon moments, too, which is why I know you’ll love our cover story this issue. I suggest cracking the magazine on a chilly evening, plopping down somewhere cozy, and pouring yourself…well, you got this.

Follow DiBenedetto on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) @davedibenedetto