Cincinnati 2016: Matching Players to Kentucky Bourbons

Masters Cincinnati is close enough to Kentucky that visitors can likely find more bourbon options than they have at home.  This is particularly true if one jaunts south of the Ohio River into Kentucky to a place like The Party Source.  Bill Straub, friend of Tennis Abides, and bourbon expert from Modern  Thirst took my descriptions of the top 5 male seeds and gave corresponding bourbons for their personality.


#1 Seed Andy Murray – He is talented, temperamental, and sometimes too passive. 


Why? The quintessential single barrel bourbon, Blanton’s is a smooth and sweet bourbon executed perfectly.   It’s also the bourbon I’ve used more than once to win over my Anglo-phile scotch-whisky-drinking friends to the world of truly fine whiskey (with an “e”) that is Kentucky Bourbon.  We don’t need any of that peaty smoke here, just whiskey made the way god intended: the Kentucky way. 

Plus, look at Murray.  Blanton’s iconic horse-and-jockey atop the cork stands out as strongly as Murray’s gigantic ears.


# 2 Seed Stan Wawrinka – He is a powerful player who wins through blunt force trauma (excellent but not subtle).



If you’re playing Wawrinka, you’d better be ready for powerful serves and ground strokes.  In other words, be on your toes. 

Uncut, barrel proof, Booker’s is the big bad older brother of the Jim Beam lineup. 

Booker’s can range upwards to tongue blistering alcohol levels, but is chock-full of flavor.  Delicate flavors and subtleties are not its strength.  Booker’s is about being smacked in the face by bold, powerful, classic bourbon flavors.  As Booker Noe himself used to say, “If your’e drinking Booker’s, you’d better have yoru pajamas on.”

 #3 Seed Rafael Nadal – He is one of the best of all time.   Nadal uses massive spin, hustles, and is known for his mental focus.


Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year.

Why? One of the all time great bourbons, Pappy’s flagship spirit is complex and refined.  But no small amount of “spin” has gone into making this brand the most sought-after label in the market.  Pappy really started the bourbon collecting craze, and has undergone various incarnations over the years, including a change of distillery from the legendary Stitzel-Weller to its current home at Buffalo Trace.  There are other great bourbons that have come along in recent years, and some people consider them superior, but Pappy is still the standard by which others are judged.  It’s well rounded, focused, and sweet on the palate with a nice long viscous finish.


Plus, we’re all a little tired of Nadal, right?  C’mon.  Like the Pappy craze, it’s time to move on

#4 Seed Milos Raonic – He has one of the biggest serves in tennis.  He has shown great willingness to improve and attack the net.  He is also one of the more friendly players on tour.



Why?  Bulleit is a bit of a difficult label to pin down.  Its mash bill contains a very high level of rye, making it a spicy sip, but it’s marketed primarily towards those who like bourbon cocktails, making it seem very approachable despite its spicy “oomph.”  Bulleit is readily available at most bars and most liquor stores, and for a sourced bourbon (a bourbon purchased from another distiller and bottled under a different name), it’s remarkably consistent. 

Plus, Bulleit has been aggressive lately responding to critics be offering a new barrel proof version of their label to reach an ever-broadening market.  Like Raonic’s willingness to improve, Bulleit seems willing to expand their product line to meet demand.

#5 Seed Kei Nishikori – He is a player who attacks the ball early and robs time from his opponents.  He has great timing and strokes, but lacks a huge serve and is injury prone.


Four Roses Single Barrel.

Why?  Kei is the only Japanese player ever to be ranked in the ATP top 10.  Four Roses is owned by Japanese company, Kirin, who recently brought the brand back to the United States under the watchful eye of bourbon savant, Jim Rutledge.  Like Nishikori’s injury-prone nature, bourbon drinkers are keeping a watchful eye on Four Roses as Jim Rutledge recently retired.  New Master Distiller, Brent Elliott, seems to be on the right track, but Rutledge’s retirement reminds us of the importance of continuity and consistency.


Four Roses Single Barrel is an excellent value at around $30.  It’s the higher rye of the two four roses recipes, giving it a solid spice on the tongue. 


One Comment Add yours

  1. Dan Martin says:

    Reblogged this on Tennis Abides and commented:

    Another Cincinnati related Throwback Thursday entry

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