The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Johnny Winter and Bushmill's 21-Year-Old Single Malt

Johnny Winter (born February 23, 1944) is an American Blues giant. I first became acquainted with his music when, as a blues loving sixteen-year-old, I purchased an album entitled, “Progressive Blues Experiment” by this little known blues guitarist. There wasn’t a single cut on the album that didn’t blow me away, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Winter toiled in relative obscurity until December, 1968 when Mike Bloomfield invited him to sing and play a song during a Bloomfield/Al Kooper concert at the Filmore East in New York. Apparently representatives of Columbia Records, which released the smash Bloomfield/Kooper Super Session album, were at the concert. Winter performed B.B. King's "It's My Own Fault" and, within a few days, was signed to a contract.

He gradually rose through the ranks hitting a pinnacle around 1970, but his career took a downturn while he recovered from a heroin addiction. By 1973, he was back on the music scene going strong. Beginning in the late 70’s he fulfilled a dream playing with Muddy Waters and actually produced three Grammy-award winning albums for him.

Both he and his brother Edgar were born with albinism, which, as causes progressive vision problems, even blindness. You can see he has problems walking on stage in the number with Butch Trucks and he remains seated during his current performances. He remains one of the greatest bluesmen to ever pick up the guitar.

A hard driving blues playing guitarist like Johnny Winters doesn’t really go with any wine that I know. So I’m going to step out of character and pair him with a very special Irish Whiskey, one that I’ve only sipped in bars as it’s about $120.00 a bottle and I don’t normally drink whiskey. However, Bushmills 21 Year-Old Single Malt (yes, I too, was surprised to see Irish whiskey’s come in single malts) is quite exceptional. As the name implies, it’s aged for 21 years through a complex process moving from bourbon barrels to sherry casks and finally Madeira drums for the finishing touches. I’m not a connoisseur of the nuances of whiskeys, but to me, this one is exceptionally smooth with a nose and palate of pecans, butterscotch, and a touch of honey. As I said, I’m no expert, but I could be convinced to pop for a bottle of this. And trust me, it’ll mate perfectly with the music of Johnny Winter.


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