April Manning Talks Bourbon


Children’s Books Author Opens Up About Her Love Of Wild Turkey

By Richard Thomas

April Manning

Neighborwood author April Manning
(Credit: April Manning)

Authors and whiskey are a widely embraced theme, so much so as to be a cliche, and one we take close interest in here at The Whiskey Reviewer. But what about children’s books authors?

Just because one writes for kids doesn’t mean one checks her adult tastes at the door, a point April Manning proves. The author of Neighborwood: Earth Literacy for Kids, April is not just a bourbon fan, but a serious Wild Turkey fan. Love for the “House That Jimmy Russell Built” runs so wide in her family, in fact, that her husband is a diehard Turkey fan too, and has Russell’s name tattooed on his arm. With a background like that, we had to ask April about her interest in bourbon.

RT: Since you are such a passionate fan of Wild Turkey, and that you are a storyteller to boot, I have to ask about how you came to be acquainted with Jimmy Russell’s bourbon?

AM: The credit for that goes to my friend Mike Richardson. One day (about 20 years ago!) he was in the liquor store and he saw that beautiful bottle of Wild Turkey and asked the question “Why are we paying the same price for 80 proof when we could be drinking 101 proof?” We all agreed that was the best decision. The rest, as they say, is history! Now there is a group of us in the Dana, Indiana area who are considered “Rare Breeds”!

RT: Did you know that Russell keeps his Rare Breed in the freezer, so he doesn’t need to put ice in it? It’s his go-to bourbon. Since Rare Breed is your favorite too, I was wondering what you might think of that.

AM: I love that Jimmy stores his Rare Breed the same way I do! Ice just messes up the flavor…And it is definitely my go-to bourbon, also! My local bartender knows exactly what to pour when I step up to the bar!

April Manning with Jimmy Russell

April with Jimmy Russell
(Credit: April Manning)

RT: Have you gotten to try the new Wild Turkeys? The rye-bourbon hybrid Forgiven or the Diamond Edition, celebrating Russell’s 60th anniversary at the distillery?

AM: I have seen bottles of both but I have not gotten to try either one. A friend of mine, Russ Richardson (yes, Mike’s brother!) has a bottle of Forgiven but has not brought it out, yet!

RT: Now that we’ve talked Turkey, are there any other bourbon brands you like?

AM: I am definitely a bourbon snob, but if I have to pick [Knob] Creek or Maker’s Mark will do in a pinch.

RT: Writers have a certain reputation for liking their drink, and sometimes point to it as a creative lubricant. Now some would say you are in a very different genre from Ernest Hemmingway and George Orwell, but perhaps not that far removed from Harper Lee. Do you think whiskey has that special relationship with writing for children too?

AM: First of all, I like that you consider my writing not that far removed from Harper Lee. My favorite literary character is Atticus Finch (2 of my dogs are named Atticus and Scout!). As for using bourbon as a creative lubricant I would say it definitely helps no matter what genre you may be writing in. For me, it is a way to relax and forget about the burdens of everyday life and when I am able to do that I can focus on my books more. Also, (depending on who I am drinking with) some of the conversations had while partaking in bourbon can lead to future book ideas. People start having fun coming up with story and character ideas. 

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  1. It’s nice to know that children’s book authors can drink like the famous hard drinking authors. It means she’s in good company. She has a good book, and drinks good bourbon!

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