People and Places

Redblacks’ QB Henry Burris is already raising a glass — of his homemade bacon bourbon!

It’s not uncommon for CFL champions to raise the silver chalice and drink from the Grey Cup after a win in the final game of the season. Henry Burris, Ottawa Redblacks’ QB, would love nothing more than to drink a little bourbon from that coveted cup — but not just any bourbon, it would have to be his own special reserve: a special bacon bourbon that he’s developed over time with his own private recipe.

Strangely enough Burris, a native of Spiro, Oklahoma, had never touched a drop of alcohol until he began playing football in Canada — a country that he says got him hooked to the finer things, including an appreciation for food and drink.

“I was strictly a water guy, and then once I got to Canada I met some people who introduced me to wine. Once I sipped that first sip that was the end to no-drinking Hank,” says Burris with a laugh.

Burris was later introduced to scotch by players from his offensive line and started pondering how he could create something unique.

After experimenting with various combinations, Burris created a bacon bourbon that he infuses with various spices.

“This past summer I made a batch and auctioned off two bottles of my Burris bacon bourbon during my first All-Star weekend. The two bottles went for a combined total of $750, and was really enjoyed by those who bought it. I mean who doesn’t like bacon!”

With the football season requiring so much of his time and energy, Burris enjoys ‘escaping’ into other pursuits.

“Sometimes I like to put my thoughts into motion because when my focus is there I don’t think about football. I want to be able to express myself to family and friends in a different way than just on the football field. It’s like a peaceful escape.”

Over the years Burris has experimented with various projects, including ownership in a restaurant in Calgary where they made their own wine. And while the enterprise was successful, Burris knew he wanted to do something a little more unique this time around.

At present, Burris takes a store-brand whiskey and dresses it up to his own personal preference, but ideally he would like to work with a distiller to create his own whiskey or bourbon with his own, signature flavours.

“That’s for after football,” says Burris.

Ottawa Redblacks' Henry Burris. Photo: Walter Tychnowicz

At 41-years-old Burris knows his football career is nearing its end and has no intention of sitting idly at home. “In the future, I’d like to [make whiskey] on a grander scale — maybe get it to some trade shows and open it up to the public. With time, who knows how big it could get.”

While Burris is excited at what the future could hold, he still has a passion for the game. One can’t help but wonder if winning a championship with the Redblacks Sunday night would be the perfect ending to what has been an all-star career.

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game, there’s a good chance Burris will ponder the future over a glass of some fine, bacon bourbon.