Episode 242. Fred Minnick – Author, Journalist and Whiskey Blogger
Fred Minnick is a national bestselling author & nationally recognized bourbon & spirits connoisseur, as well a U.S. Army veteran. While growing up in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma County News published his 1st story at the age of 15. Fred states he will never forget the feeling of seeing his name in print. After that, he was hooked. In 1996, Fred joined the National Guard to help pay for college. After he graduated in 2001 from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Communication/Journalism, he joined the Army as an infantryman, but once he learned the Army had jobs for Army journalists – he reclassified. By the time he graduated and started his career with a marketing firm in Wisconsin, he found himself serving in a mobile public affairs detachment, the week before 9/11. He became an Army staff sergeant & ultimately a public affairs photojournalist who in 2003 served a 1-year tour of duty deployment to Mosul, Iraq with the 139 Mobile Public Affairs Detachment ending in 2004.
During this time, Fred suffered from various physical wounds & PTSD. The “day-to-day” became a real challenge for him after Iraq. While working for Networld Alliance as a restaurant trade editor, Fred took the giant leap to go out on his own, and of the 1st things he did as a new freelancer was write a list of categories, he could write about. BOURBON was on that list. From a technique he learned called Mindfulness on how to deal with his PTSD, it, in turn, became a GREAT technique for learning how to taste bourbon. Which is how he has become the industry’s leading spirits taster, traveling all over the world. There was no one specializing in bourbon & spirit tasting at that time, yet publications wanted the information. There was a broad audience & the market could handle it.
Before he knew it, a new career was born! His 1st bourbon story was published shortly thereafter, & never looked back as they say! In 2009 he penned his 1st book about his tour of Duty in Iraq called Camera Boy: An Army Journalist’s War in Iraq. The success of that book led Fred to author 6 different books & become a Wall Street Journal-bestselling author with such titles as Bourbon-The Rise & Fall & Rebirth of an American Whiskey or Bourbon Curious: A Simple Guide for the Savvy Drinker, Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch & Irish Whiskey or total diversionary topics away from distilled spirits such as Certified Angus Beef History Book. Today he serves as a judge on the San Francisco World Spirits Competition & the World Whiskies Awards.
He’s also judged multiple cocktail contests, including the national competitions for Old Forester, Four Roses & Citadelle Gin. Fred is the official “Bourbon Authority” for the Kentucky Derby Museum, has been the Chairman of the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky’s Brain Ball. Not to mention a spirits writer for multiple national & international periodicals such as USA Today/Scientific American/Parade Magazine/Caviar Affair /Whisky Advocate/Whisky Magazine/Tasting Panel/Wine Spectator/Sommelier Journal/Wine Enthusiast/Bourbon Review-a Hunting Magazine named Covey Rise & even the Costco Connection!
As you have read, it wasn’t an easy road to where he sits atop the bourbon world, waiting on a new batch to write about and taste. But looking back at Iraq as a father, husband, successful author, and a sought-after spirits expert – he said he is in a good place now.
Fred resides with his lovely wife Jaclyn in Louisville, Ky.