National Bourbon Day | June 14, 2021.
First, a bit of historical background on bourbon.
Bourbon is made with corn, limestone water and time. In the middle of the 18th century (mid-1700s) Scots-Irish immigrants settled in an area of the U.S. now called Virginia and Kentucky. Corn is the only grain native to the area and so they began distilling corn in order to make alcoholic spirits. Corn made an excellent whiskey because of its inherent sweetness. Another geographical factor also contributed to the birth of bourbon: Kentucky is made in the Limestone Region of the country. Water from that same region was imbued with calcium. When iron is filtered from the limestone (calcium) imbued water and then used in the distillation process of corn, the resulting spirit is bourbon. High calcium, low iron water makes a superior bourbon. A distiller and also clergyman from the area named Elijah Craig used old fish barrels to store his spirits. The fish barrels were made of oak. When the fish barrel did not produce a pleasant taste in the aged whiskey, Elijah Craig rectified the problem by purifying the inside of the barrels. He did this by charring the inside of the barrels before use. He stamped the outside of the barrels with their county of origin (Bourbon County) and then sent them on a 90 day trip down to New Orleans. The charred oak in the barrels and the three month travel time mellowed the corn whiskey and imbued it with a smooth, oaky, smoky flavor. When the people of New Orleans requested more of “that whiskey from Bourbon”, the name bourbon whiskey was coined. The first known use of the word “bourbon” appeared in Kentucky’s “Western Citizen” in 1821. Congress declared bourbon “a distinctive product of the United States in 1964.
Ways To Celebrate National Bourbon Day
Mix up and enjoy a bourbon-based cocktail. The choices are many. Perhaps the oldest and best known mixed drink of all is the Old Fashioned. It is easy to make and certainly easy to enjoy!
Host a bourbon tasting party. Invite some friends over and ask each to bring a different bottle of bourbon. Then all the guests taste each bourbon and discuss their respective flavor profiles and each person’s thoughts and opinions regarding the flavors and characteristics of each bourbon. It is a good idea to add a drop of distilled water to each pour to help open up the aromas. Engage your senses of taste and smell. What are some of the distinct characteristics of each pour: woody or smoky? fruity or floral? nutty, earthy, herbal? You can describe the taste of a specific food or smell that you detect in the bourbon. Have fun hearing how each person experiences and describes each bourbon. Compare and contrast the bourbons. Then decide for yourself which one (or ones!) you most enjoy.
Watch public television station KET’s hour long program called “Kentucky Bourbon Tales” which features interviews with Master Distillers. There is also a full-length (as yet to be released) documentary dedicated solely to bourbon. It will be called “Neat: The Bourbon Film” when it is eventually released. Stay tuned!
Bourbon is the only spirit indigenous to America, specifically to the American South. About 95% of all bourbon is produced in Kentucky although many other cities and even countries are starting to get in on the act.
Future National Bourbon Day dates announced thus far are:
- 2021 Monday June 14
- 2022 Tuesday June 14
- 2023 Wednesday June 14
- 2024 Friday June 14
- 2025 Saturday June 14
National Bourbon Heritage Month
National Bourbon Month was created in 2007 by Senator Jim Bunning who wanted to reinforce the significance of bourbon as being our “Native Spirit”. September is National Bourbon Month. During September there are many other activities celebrating bourbon, many of them being in Kentucky and New Orleans. September also marks the beginning of the coveted Fall Bourbon Bottle Release.
Mark Twain is quoted as saying “If I cannot drink bourbon in heaven then I shall not go.”
Here are some examples of the many Bourbon Clubs available:
Black Bourbon Society is a tiered membership club open to everyone who enjoys premium spirits and is interested in gaining a deeper appreciation of America’s “Native Spirit”. Black Bourbon Society (BBS) is crafting a movement that showcases the value of the niche lifestyle and sophisticated palates within the African American Community and beyond.
Bourbon of the Month Clubs
Mash & Grape Box focuses customers with top quality products (including bourbons) from lesser-known distilleries. They provide outstanding curation and access to the in-house marketplace. Not only do they offer access to their in-house marketplace but they also offer exclusive bottle offers, access to a national retailer network and a relationship with brands. They look for top products rather than bargains and they approach the distillers with the offer of a chance to appear before a desirable and engaged buyer. Many brands (especially new ones) seek Mash & Grapes e-commerce services (under Barcart), giving them a jump on scouting. You can get a good deal on premium bourbon through Mash & Grapes.
Flaviar offers exacting curation, four tastes per shipment , free shipping on qualified orders, live tasting events, community customized choices. They ship 750ml bottles as well as a “tasting box” with 3 dram sized 50ml samples, grouped around a theme and paired with lively tasting notes, a coaster and tasting guides. They also offer Flaviar Times magazine. There are tasting and blending events (both live and online) and VIP distillery tours. Flaviar sponsors online “Buzzfeed”.
Taster’s Club features interesting and atypical selections. They have a members’ bottle shop and they offer free shipping. Flavor and tasting notes accompany each bottle and online resources provide such information as “how to properly taste and evaluate bourbon”, “bourbon production techniques” and “distillers around the U.S”. They offer gift giving options like the bottle gift pack. This club is indeed very educational for all levels of bourbon lovers from novice to expert!
These are examples of just a few of the many Bourbon of the Month Clubs available. Bourbon of the Month Clubs provide convenience, expertise, variety and education to bourbon enthusiasts of all kinds. There is something for everybody!