Ask Boerne attorney and bourbon enthusiast Shawn Lovorn when his fondness for the popular spirit began, and he's quick to respond, "I've been drinking whiskey all my life." What started as an observation of his grandfather enjoying the familiar and regal purple bag of Crown Royal and his father's preference for Canadian Club and Coke, Lovorn began his journey to develop an appreciation and understanding of his own.
As he remembers his dad's inclination for the rye of the Great White North, you can hear the smile in his voice, "That was the worst thing, but that was where my interest started. It got more refined as the years went on."
"I've been on this trend of liking really good bourbon, and I was in Kentucky a couple of years ago and went to Buffalo Trace Distillery. That's my favorite," he recalls. As he recounts the memory of stepping into the barrel-lined heart of the facility, Lovorn's appreciation is evident, "That's the best smell in the world."
It's not lost on him that whiskey is a popular indulgence among the women and men of the legal community, but Lovorn forges his own path. "A lot of attorneys drink Scotch," he notes. "But, I'm a bourbon guy all the way. It's the holy grail, the unadulterated version of the spirit. I drink it neat or in an Old Fashioned."
After earning his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from St. Edward's University in Austin, Lovorn obtained his Juris Doctor degree from St. Mary's University School of Law. He was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2005 and founded the Lovorn Law Firm that year. With offices in Boerne and New Braunfels, the firm practices family, criminal, and business law and works in wills, estates, and probate.
Several months ago, the Boerne offices moved into the iconic Carstanjen-Hall Mansion at 705 South Main Street. With a long history and multiple stories of ghostly encounters, Lovorn knew it was no coincidence that the building crossed his path.
"Our logo is a lion, and when we first walked up to the building, we saw a gold-plated lion's head as a knocker. Then we walked in and saw the bar to the right. That was the cherry on top. That bar is in our current client seating area."
The building houses the Lovorn Law Firm but also serves as a gathering place for social events, including a recent meeting of the local Bar Association. But, whatever the occasion, Lovorn is never at a loss for words regarding his love for whiskey, particularly bourbon.
So what does he recommend for someone wanting to dip their toe into the bourbon barrel?
"I would recommend not going by the mainstream because we're so influenced by marketing and what other people like," Lovorn explains. "Put six bourbons and do a [blind] tasting and see what you like. You're looking for consistency, unique flavor, and smoothness."
He explains his process for tasting whiskey: "You take a sip, swish it around your mouth for a few seconds, then swallow it. It will be spicy and it will burn, but then you take the next swallow to get a real sense of it."
While Lovorn prefers bourbon, one can try several types of whiskey. Although multiple categories and sub-categories exist, you can distill them into a few general types.
Bourbon whiskey is an American whiskey made from a fermented mash of grains — most commonly corn — and aged in charred oak barrels. It is named after Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it originated in the late 18th Century. Bourbon whiskey is required by law to be made with at least 51% corn and aged for at least two years. It is known for its sweet and caramel-like flavor profile and is often enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in classic cocktails such as the “Old Fashioned” and the “Manhattan.”
Scotch whiskey is a type of whiskey that is made in Scotland and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. It is made from malted barley and grains and is known for its smoky, peaty flavor. Unlike bourbon whiskey, there is no legal requirement for the percentage of grains used in its production but it must be distilled in Scotland. Scotch whiskey is often enjoyed neat or with a splash of water to bring out its complex flavors. It also serves as the base for classic cocktails such as the “Rob Roy” and the “Rusty Nail.”
Rye whiskey is made from at least 51% rye grains. It is typically aged in charred oak barrels for at least two years, although many rye enthusiasts prefer a longer aging process. This whiskey is known for its spicy and robust flavor, often attributed to rye grains' use in the distillation process. It is a popular choice for cocktails like the “Manhattan” and the “Sazerac,” but can also be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
Irish whiskey, as its name implies, originates in Ireland and is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. Like Scotch whiskey, it is made from malted barley and grains but is known for its smoother and less smoky flavor profile. Irish whiskey is distilled three times, which contributes to its distinctive taste. It can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks and is also a popular ingredient in cocktails such as “Irish Coffee” and “Whiskey Sour.”
Japanese whiskey dates back to the 1920s. While similar to Scotch and Irish whiskey in that it is made from malted barley and grains, it is also known for its unique flavor profile, often including hints of fruit and spices. Japanese whiskey is typically distilled twice, which contributes to its smoothness. It can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as a cocktail component like the “Japanese Highball” and the “Whiskey Sour.”
Blended whiskey combines different types of whiskey, typically a combination of malt and grain. The proportion of each whiskey can vary depending on the brand and the desired flavor profile. Blended whiskey is often aged in oak barrels to give it a smooth and mellow taste. It is a popular cocktail choice but can also be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
Closing the conversation, Lovorn notes one particular common misconception about whiskey: he quickly pointed out that it's not just a man's drink. "I know a lot of females, and their go-to is bourbon."
As writer and whiskey enthusiast Reid Mitenbuler puts it: "Bourbon is a comfort food. As the world becomes more complex, bourbon remains simple… Bourbon connects us to a past that was somehow less complicated, and we've turned to it for relief from modern confusion."
“I'm a bourbon guy all the way. It's the holy grail, the unadulterated version of the spirit. I drink it neat or in an Old Fashioned."