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20160124_181554A man’s reputation is that one fiber of his being that he owns but everyone else keeps for him. In a sense, it is a type of currency that other people spend on your behalf, sometimes spending it wisely; other times paying it out far too frivolously – to the point of devaluation.

I know for a fact that people are more than capable of ruining the worth of their repute by their own election. People make choices. People do stupid things deliberately, and so the repercussion is just, but I smile knowing that such justice almost always bears the promise that if better choices are made, time will allow for a slow but steady return of status. But when I see integrous action unaware and affected by another’s misdeeds, so much so that it becomes a near-permanent damaging of that one fiber held in the hands of others, I am unlikely to remain silent – not to initiate combat, but to bring about reconciliation between those who require it and to shine the light on those who’d choose to take shelter in the dark of deceit.

Sadly, this was a recent course for a duet of men I consider friends – Sean and Michael Jonna, the proprietors of Jonna’s Market in Howell, Michigan.RLIM2541-Edit-600x400


These men were unjustly maligned and regrettably it happened during one of the busiest times of the year for their business.

The essentials to the difficulty is that the gentleman who runs “Red, White, and Bourbon” (a fine whisky site that I would encourage all of the Angelsportion readers to visit, by the way), well, an article was presented there which unfortunately painted a portrait of the good men at Jonna’s in hues most undeserving. Of course, as I noted above, I felt compelled to investigate and then respond in a way that would bring restoration. You may click here to read the original article. The following is the comment I made on the post:

First of all, greetings to a fellow WordPresser and whisky lover. I’ve happened upon this quality site and am certainly glad that I have since, while Scotch is my dram of preference, I’m just now beginning to visit and investigate amongst the Bourbons and the ones who love them. By the way, I’m yet to find one that I actually like, but I’m no quitter. Rest assured, I will press on. Any advice you might supply would be greatly appreciated.

Next, I’ll ask if you’ve ever been maligned in a way that has caused you great heartache because you knew, in a sense, you yourself had been duped into a shadowy invention, and yet even as you discovered it by way of complaints and sought to make things right, there wasn’t much you could do about it because the fiery chariots of the internet had already carried that which you own but everyone else keeps for you — your reputation — up, up and into the nethersphere?

I say this because I happen to know the Jonna family very well. I deal with all sorts from the whisky sphere and I can say that I know of no other establishment that I have dealt with personally in the tri-county area of Michigan where I live that is as honest, upright, and as worthy of an unscathed reputation as the men who own and operate Jonna’s Market. These men are classically honorable and above reproach.

But, admittedly, I was troubled by this article. And so I went to my friends and sat with them to hear what happened. I listened and they, with no venomous spite whatsoever, but rather with a bit of sadness, gave me their side of the story. I would humbly urge you to do the same. Reach out to them. I’ve considered your words, and I’ve considered the evidence — distributor documentation as well as the merit of these good men’s words — and I believe there is an undue pall of inferred participatory deceit being hung upon them that just doesn’t suit what I know to be true. If you’d like to chat with me personally, I am your servant. Just contact me through my site. I’ll get right back to you.

With that, cheers to you and all your followers. — Rev Thoma+ (angelsportion.com)

Josh, the whisky scribe who keeps RW&B did contact me privately offering that he did not mean for the blame to land at the feet of the Jonna brothers. This response served the heart well. I sent Michael’s mobile phone number to him letting him know that I’d spoken to Michael and he would be quite pleased to chat about the situation. At this point, I don’t know what has resulted. Last I heard, there’s been no call, but I do understand that life is often far too busy to act right away. If I do hear anything, I’ll be sure to update this post. And again, be sure to visit RW&B. Josh is a sharp contender in the aqua vitae collegium.

In the meantime, I managed to get my hands on one of the bottles at the heart of the controversy – the Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

Already you may be expecting a poor review as I typically struggle to embrace bourbons. It’s just that in comparison to Scotch, bourbons so often seem rather careless in design. I did realize some pleasure from the High West, but when I pried the cork from this one, I’ll admit that the first nosing wasn’t promising.

I always smell the whisky in the bottle before I pour and sip it. It was no different here. In this case, it seemed a bit coarse – I was convinced it would be as two-dimensional and unkept as so many of the others I’ve tried. But everything changed in the glencairn.

I could actually sense honey-dipped berries and a mere mention of the barrel wood.

The palate was a softer rendition of melted toffee and roasted cloves. Rather delightful, if not exceptional.

The finish seemed a bit swift, although I wonder if in my case that is a good thing because I began to sense an unbalancing citrus char that I’ve experienced in other editions.

I suppose the Basil Hayden reputation, as it has passed through Angelsportion County, is relatively unscathed and by no means devalued. In fact, I’ll just go ahead and say it – this is a bourbon I might keep on hand, and you might want to consider doing so as well.