Katie Buchanan Talks Bourbon

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By Richard Thomas

Katie Buchanan

Katie Buchanan,
modern blueser and bourbon fan
(Credit: Katie Buchanan)

Originally from Kansas, Katie Buchanan relocated to New York to study at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, and is now pursuing her trade there as a modern blues singer-songwriter. But in addition to her devotion to Fender guitars and her music, Katie is also a self-described whiskey fanatic. With a new single, “Go,” coming out later this summer, we were lucky to catch up with Katie and ask her about her “responsible obsession with bourbon.”

RT: So, you are into rye and bourbon, and you usually like them neat. Let’s say you are in a bar with a good whiskey shelf and you want a nice sipping whiskey. What would make you pick rye over bourbon, or bourbon over rye?

KB: Okay, let’s not call it a bar if they don’t have a good whiskey shelf…they should know better. As for rye over bourbon/bourbon over rye, a lot of it depends on the weather actually: I tend toward Rye in the hotter months and Bourbon when it’s cold. Of course if they have something interesting or that I’ve been dying to test out, that’s where I’m headed.

RT: Have you ventured into the new American malt category, or perhaps tried some wheat whiskey? If so, what are your thoughts?

I haven’t gotten deep into it yet, but I’ve heard such great things. Right now I’m exploring Scotch a bit, if only because my brother got me a really nice bottle this past Christmas (mostly as a joke) and I figure I should be able to enjoy it properly. I tend to get really obsessed with one type of whiskey (the past year’s been rye), and I like to find all the different nooks and crannies it can express.   Now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll probably get obsessed with wheat.

RT: What is your current “go to” whiskey? Not necessarily your favorite, but definitely your standard.

KB: Currently I’ve been reaching for Widow Jane’s 7 year bourbon (despite summer setting in).  Unfortunately it’s hard to find in bars outside of NYC.  So in that case I’ll usually go for Templeton (if I want something a bit too easy to drink) or Bulleit Rye (if I want something a bit brighter out of LDI).  In the absence of those or a better option, beer is also delicious.

RT: The “Great American Whiskey Shortage” has been in the news a lot lately. Are you worried that some of your favorite brands might get expensive or hard to find? Or has that already happened?

KB: I didn’t pay much attention when it started affecting the bigger names but now…I can’t find a single bottle of my favorite rye (Willett Family Estate Rye) in stores. Granted that’s a small production bottle from a relatively small company, and yes maybe I’m a little bitter that everyone found out about it and now it’s impossible to find. And maybe it has nothing to do with the “Great American Whiskey Shortage”…what was the question?

But yes, it’s a bit worrying.  I mean, it’s great that whiskey’s in fashion in again, it makes for a lot more options (some of which are good) and a lot more drinkers (some of which actually appreciate it). But hopefully the shortage that creates doesn’t affect the quality of the product.  That’s the hard line for me, because eventually another fad will come in and we’ll be talking about that. Just don’t mess with the whiskey.

RT: It’s almost a stereotype that writers and musicians have a liking for drink, and that sometimes that prods the creative process a long. As a whiskey fan and a singer-songwriter, what do you think of that notion?

KB: Well it’s not untrue…most of my whiskey buddies are also singer-songwriters. But when it comes down to it I’m a fan of whiskey, not just the notion of drinking whiskey to write songs. It certainly doesn’t hurt the process (at least in moderation and other responsible things), and it’s pretty convenient that “whiskey” is an incredibly singable word for lyrics. But when it comes down to it, truly appreciating a good whiskey is appreciating the craft that went into creating it. So it makes perfect sense that it fits with the creation of songs.

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