Nobody really needs a good excuse to enjoy the odd tipple, but National Bourbon Day gives anyone the perfect reason to dust off a bottle of this fine whiskey and have a glass or two!
Those who are less steeped in the culture of alcoholic beverages may not know the difference between bourbon and whiskey, which is certainly okay! This is the perfect day to learn. National Bourbon Day has been set aside as a day to learn about and appreciate this fine liquor which some people refer to as the “Spirit of America”.
It’s time to celebrate this American ‘Native Spirit’!
History of National Bourbon Day
Legend has it that the date on which National Bourbon Day is celebrated is the anniversary of the very first time this famous drink was distilled, way back in the late 1700s. It may only be a legend but, whatever the truth of this is, National Bourbon Day is surely a day worth celebrating.
Bourbon is a specific category of American whiskey, which is made from a mash that is primarily corn based–at least 51% must be corn in order for it to be classified as bourbon. Other grains in the mash typically include malted barley, rye or wheat.
The mash is then distilled, then aged for at least two years in barrels that are new charred oak barrels, in order to be “straight bourbon whiskey”. Many bourbons are aged longer than 2 years. In fact, one labelling rule states that any bourbon aged for less than 4 years must state as much on the label.
This is a very strong liquor. The corn mash to make the bourbon starts out at 80% alcohol and, through the aging process as well as filtering and bottling processes, the final product can be no less than 40% alcohol by volume.
Bourbon definitely originated in the US state of Kentucky, sometime in the 1700s, before it even had acquired its official name. The name seems to be a nod to the French Bourbon Dynasty, and possibly was in honor of Bourbon County, an area of Kentucky that was known for its corn growing.
While some people think that bourbon must be made in Kentucky (like cognac must be made in a certain region of France) that’s not actually true. It simply needs to be distilled and aged in the state in order to be given the special name, “Kentucky Bourbon”.
Even so, most of this drink is still made in Kentucky and folks from that area would claim that it’s definitely the place where the best bourbon comes from. Some Kentuckians even claim that the limestone in the springwater from the area offers this bourbon a flavor distinguished from the rest.
In 1964, the US Congress recognized bourbon as a “distinctive product of the United States”. In fact, many trade agreements require that, to be called bourbon, a whiskey must be made in the USA.
As bourbon whiskey began to grow in popularity, the tourism around this drink began to increase in Kentucky. At one point, to keep up with demand, some companies were planning to reduce the alcohol content of their products, but backlash from customers forced them to reverse their decision. Some companies have limited their supplies overseas to keep up with demands in the US. That means that Kentucky still probably is the best place to get bourbon!
While it is true that all bourbons are whiskey, not all whiskeys are bourbon. And National Bourbon Day is certainly the best day to find out more about this tasty beverage and enjoy a glass as well.
How to Celebrate National Bourbon Day
Celebrating National Bourbon Day is filled with fun, enjoyment and, of course, access to different bourbons of the world! Try these celebratory ideas for enjoying the day:
Try a Different Kind of Bourbon
Those who are new on the scene, welcome! It’s time to try bourbon of any variety. For those who are enthusiasts and aficionados, National Bourbon Day is the perfect time to try a new brand, flavor or vintage of this special whiskey.
- Knob’s Creek. Whether choosing the 9-year, or the more sought-after 15-year, this brand is well known for its small batch varieties that everyone seems to love.
- Evan Williams Black Label. A great taste for a newcomer, this affordable brand brings 86 proof whiskey that is aged more than 5 years.
- Jim Beam’s Old Grandad. Mid-range price and 114 proof is super spicy and appreciated by those who want to avoid the “hype” of fancier brands.
Join a National Bourbon Day Event
There are plenty of events and options for whiskey lovers and their friends (even those who don’t know much about whiskey) to get in the swing of things and enjoy this special day. Hotels and restaurants often enter into the spirit of the occasion by organizing a dinner in honor of Bourbon.
Hop on the National Bourbon Day website for more information and events.
Visit the Bourbon Capital of the World
Bardstown, Kentucky has been hailed by some to be the “Bourbon Capital of the World”. Because of this, it may just be the perfect place to visit for a National Bourbon Day celebration. With at least 10 different distilleries in the area, Bardstown offers an eclectic array of bourbon options, including: Bardstown Bourbon Company, Maker’s Mark Distillery, Jim Beam American Stillhouse ahd Heaven Hill Distillery.
National Bourbon Day events typically last over two or three days, hosting tastings, demonstrations, and expert discussions. While in town, don’t forget to stop by the Oscar Getz Museum of Whisky History, which is a special place for bourbon enthusiasts.
Those who can’t make it to Kentucky but want to join in from home can access the National Bourbon Day video library for recorded and virtual events.
Try Some New Bourbon Cocktail Recipes
A great idea for celebrating the day is to entertain family and friends by trying out some old or new Bourbon cocktail recipes.
- Bourbon Old Fashioned. A classic, of course, but always amazing. This drink includes bourbon, bitters, water, sugar, and a garnish of orange peel.
- Bourbon Mint Julep. Another Kentucky favorite known for its attachment to the horse race, the Kentucky Derby, this refreshing drink simply calls for simple syrup, mint sprigs, bourbon and crushed ice.
- Bourbon Manhattan. Named after the city that never sleeps, this iconic American drink just begs to make with America’s Native Spirit! Mix bourbon whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and orange peel.
- Bourbon Sidecar. Normally made with cognac, this American-ized version of the drink is just as tasty. Shake together bourbon, triple sec and lemon juice with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
No matter what the plans are for the day, it’s easy to add a little splash of whiskey to an evening meal to make National Bourbon Day a night to remember!