Neat. Cut with water. On the rocks. Small batch. Cask strength. The Manhattan. The Old Fashioned. The Mint Julep - the choices go on and gloriously on. The common thread? Bourbon. The name given to that caramelized spirit, made from corn, aged in charred-oak barrels and carrying the mark of the southern states. Where does that name come from anyway? Well, much the way true Champagne can only come from the Champagne wine-making region of France, so too, does bourbon carry the name of its storied birthplace, Bourbon County, Kentucky. This gigantic county, named for the French Royal Family at the time, was one of the first founded west of the Allegheny Mountains by pioneers after the close of the Revolutionary War. What was originally a form of currency and warmth in winter has burgeoned into a flavorful industry and blazed an American distiller's trail.
Whether bourbon is a staple of your bar menu or something you can't bring yourself even remotely to drink, its history is steeped in the early growth and expansion of our nation. So, what better reason to celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month? This national observance was enacted only recently, in 2007, when Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning (R) sponsored a bill seeking to call for consumers who enjoy bourbon to observe a month in which they should do exactly that - enjoy the flavors and history of the spirit, but always responsibly and in moderation of course.
So, to all bourbon aficionados, those who simply appreciate the lore behind the liquid and all in-between: We salute you! Cheers!
P.S. from Sarah: If you're not a bourbon fan, I might be able to change your mind. Check out this glorious grown-up pumpkin pie milkshake I stumbled upon last year.