About ten years ago, I posted something on Facebook about my ideal liquor store. Justins’ House of Bourbon meets most of the criteria I set for my perfect liquor store. There is an excellent selection of American whiskeys. They carry all of the major brands available, plus they have a large selection from the smaller distilleries in Kentucky. They have an excellent staff that is well versed in whiskey knowledge. They have an excellent tasting bar. They have many private selection picks from the distilleries. They even have a large selection of vintage whiskeys, both for sale by the bottle and at the tasting bar. They have a secluded room for private tastings.
Justins’ House of Bourbon is the brain child of Justin Thompson, one of the founders of the Bourbon Review magazine, and his partner Justin Sloan. The original store is in Lexington, Kentucky. They have expanded with a store at 101 West Market Street in Louisville. I have been to both places and enjoyed my visits to both. You walk into the Louisville store and immediately see the tasting bar and many shelves of whiskey for sale. Walking to the back of the store reveals the many glass cases with vintage bottles for sale. The vintage products are expensive as are all vintage bottles these days. To be fair to the Justins, they have to be expensive because I am sure they paid a high price for the bottles and they do have to make a profit. Kentucky changed the law to allow stores such as Justins’ House of Bourbon to purchase and resell such bottles. This has driven the price of vintage whiskey up as more people sell their old bottles found in their grandparent’s basement bar.
There are a few other things I would like to see, as I discussed earlier on my Facebook post. My ideal liquor store offer a section of shelving for books. It would be nice to have a place where people could go and find everything that has been printed about American Whiskey, cocktails and other related subjects. The University Press of Kentucky has a very large selection of books about spirits and cocktails. I am sure they would love to have a place with all of their books available to tourists. There are many other books available from other publishers as well. It would also be nice to have spirits-related magazines available. I would also like to see items such as glassware and other whiskey related items available.
The final thing I mentioned in my Facebook post was to have a section where food such as a selection of cheeses, chocolates, nuts and crackers were sold. It would be nice to have a place where a person who is hosting a whiskey tasting party could go in and find everything they needed for a topnotch tasting event. I am sure that the biggest problem here is space in the store and the fact that books and food do not have a large profit margin, but you can always dream about it!
Justins’ House of Bourbon is my ideal liquor store. They have a great selection and a knowledgeable staff. You can taste many great American whiskeys at the tasting bar, so if you are unsure if you want a bottle of a particular brand, you can try a sip before you make the purchase. If you find yourself in Louisville or Lexington, it is well worth a stop at Justins’ House of Bourbon.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl and Rosemary Miller