Information: Coming soon!
National Bourbon Day is dedicated to bourbon, a type of whiskey made only in the United States. In order to be classified as bourbon, it also must be made of a grain mixture of at least 51% corn, be aged in new, charred oak containers, be distilled at no more than 160 proof, be put in barrels at no more than 125 proof, and be bottled at 80 proof (40%) or more. Although it does not need to be made in Kentucky, most are. There is some debate on who the first person to distill bourbon was, but there is a consensus it was made by settlers that came to Bourbon County, which was originally part of Virginia and was established in 1785. This area is now known as Old Bourbon County and is comprised of 34 counties in Kentucky. These settlers came following the American Revolution and were Scots-Irish, as well as English, Irish, Welsh, German, and French. The name of the whiskey most likely draws its name from Bourbon County, but some believe it is derived from Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a city where a lot of bourbons was shipped, via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Although bourbon sales lagged in the 1970s and 1980s, today the sales are booming!
What happens when you combine corn, limestone, white oak, fire, and time? You get one of the best-loved alcoholic spirits in American history: bourbon. Since June 14 is National Bourbon Day, a little history is in order. In the mid-1700s, Scots-Irish settlers in the area that is now Virginia and Kentucky began distilling corn — the only grain native to the area, but one which made for excellent whiskey owing to its sweetness. Another geographical factor was also beneficial to the birth of bourbon.The Limestone Shelf region, where all major American whiskeys are still made today, imbued the local water with calcium while filtering out iron. Turns out that high-calcium, low-iron water is excellent when it comes to makin’ moonshine. We have a clergyman-cum-distiller named Elijah Craig to thank for the third major piece of the bourbon puzzle. In the late 1780s, Craig was using old fish barrels to store his spirits.Not surprisingly, fish-flavored wood did not enhance the whiskey’s taste, so Craig started purifying the white-oak barrels by charring the inside. Then he stamped the barrels with their county of origin (Bourbon County, in his case) and sent them on a 90-day trip down to New Orleans. The charred oak and three-month travel time combined to mellow the whiskey and give it a smooth, smoky, oaky flavor. WhenNew Orleanians requested more of “that whiskey from Bourbon,” the name and the spirit were born.
How to Observe National Bourbon Day
National Bourbon Day should be celebrated by drinking bourbon. It can be drunk neat, over ice, diluted, or in mixed drinks such as the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, whiskey sour, or mint julep. If you are having trouble picking a bourbon out for the day, take a look at this list of the 25 most important bourbons ever. If you happen to be in Kentucky, you could use the day to check out some important distillers on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Credit: National Today