“Never delay kissing a pretty girl or opening a bottle of whiskey.” – Ernest Hemingway

Although Hemingway is right, and you should always open a bottle of whiskey without delay, in September there is even more urgency. September is National Bourbon month, and for those who love bourbon, Kentucky is the heart of it all. Kentucky is known for its plethora of bourbon distilleries, and they want everyone else to know it too! Go to Kentucky during any weekend in September, and you will see the full heritage of bourbon on display. And despite the pandemic, the show must go on. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate bourbon?

Bourbon is as American as apple pie and baseball, and in 1964, Congress finally made it official and passed a law to declare bourbon a specialty product of the United States. In 2007, the Senate took it a step further with a resolution to celebrate “National Bourbon Heritage Month.” Americans have been making bourbon since before there even was an America! In fact, when George Washington was not busy running the country and cutting down that cherry tree, he ran the largest distillery in the history of the early years of the country near Mr. Vernon.

Although you might not be aware, there are special rules associated with bourbon in order to consider it an official bourbon that is pure enough to bear the name. The law says that it must be distilled in charred oak barrels, it must contain at least 51% corn, and it must be made in the United States.

In September and indeed all throughout the year, bourbon is becoming more popular as a beverage, with bourbon tasting and specialty events popping up all over the country. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), explained that Americans are growing more and more interested in America’s bourbon. “In 2020, more than 28 million 9-liter cases of American Whiskey were sold in the United States, generating over $4.3 billion in revenue for distillers.”

American bourbon has always been an important export, but the enjoyment of American bourbon overseas has been hampered recently by an entirely unrelated steel and aluminum industry war between the US and the EU and UK, which began in 2018. Unfortunately, whisky is the only beverage still experiencing the tariff.  “Since the imposition of retaliatory tariffs in 2018, American Whiskey exports to the UK have decreased by 52 percent and to the EU by 32 percent,” said Chris Swonger, President and CEO of DISCUS. “We are hopeful this tariff issue will be resolved by the end of the year, so that adult consumers in two of our largest export markets can continue to enjoy one of our country’s greatest exports. Especially during Bourbon Heritage Month, we need toasts – not tariffs!”

So how exactly does one celebrate National Bourbon Month, especially if the pandemic is preventing you from getting to Kentucky? Here are a few quick tips for you to celebrate in style!

  1. Hit up a podcast by Steve Akley, author of Bourbon Daily. Learn little-known facts and enjoy his quirky information-sharing as you grow in knowledge about one of America’s favorite libations.
  2. Try a new bottle of bourbon. A great choice is this Bourbon Whiskey from Harlem Standard  is 93 proof and aged in oak barrels for more than 4 years.  The caramel and cream flavor is meshed with spicy notes that leave a smooth finish that leaves room for a hint of spice.
  3. Try some bourbon flavored food. There are many options for experimentation, from meats to desserts, but one of our favorites is this Bobby Flay recipe for Bourbon Molasses Butter. Heaping it atop homemade biscuits will make your taste buds very happy!
  4. Crafts anyone? Use your old bourbon bottle to set the mood by putting some tiny white lights in it and putting it on a living room shelf. If you want to take it to another level, try your hand at wood working and create a shelf so you can display your bourbon collection.
  5. When in doubt, have a drink! Whether you drink your bourbon straight or in a signature cocktail, make sure to choose a quality bourbon like this Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey 111 proof. Brown butter, butterscotch and vanilla bean weave together beautifully in this whiskey, which can be the springboard for so many drinks. Try this New York Sour, a delectable combination of sweet and tart, and topped off with red wine.

September is the perfect time to celebrate one of America’s signature liquors, bourbon.  Even if you can’t make it to Kentucky, you can celebrate Bourbon Month from the comfort of your own home!

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