Bourbon Heritage Month was created by the U.S. Senate in 2007. It designates September as the month we celebrate the “Distinctive product of the United States” (bourbon) which was declared that in 1964, also by the U.S. Senate. September is the perfect month to celebrate since the International Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky is the third week of that month each year. Here are just a few suggestions to celebrate Bourbon Heritage month in Kentucky, or wherever you live.
September 3rd – Not only is this the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, but it is the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War in 1783. That same year, Evan Williams started distilling whiskey in what was then Louisville, Virginia (later to become Louisville, Kentucky in 1792). Since you’ll no doubt be having some get-togethers (or going to some cookouts and get-togethers) why not make this a theme and host a bourbon tasting at those gatherings.
I’d suggest the Evolution of Bourbon Tasting that shows the type of whiskey that Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Basil Hayden, Jacob Beam, and others were making back in the late 1700’s, and how it evolved to aged corn whiskey, Bottled in Bond bourbon, and the small batch/single barrel bourbons of today. You can use the following whiskies in your tasting:
Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey – unaged corn whiskey, bottled at 80 proof
Recipe- 80% corn 8% rye 12% barley malt
Mellow Corn – same recipe as Georgia Moon, but aged for 4 years in a used Evan Williams barrel, and bottled at 100 Proof (Bottled in Bond)
Bernheim Wheat Whiskey – aged 7 years in brand new charred barrels and bottled at 90 proof
Recipe – 51% wheat 37% corn 12% barley malt
Evan Williams Bottled In Bond – 4 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey at 100 Proof
Recipe – 78% corn 10% rye 12% barley malt
Elijah Craig Small Batch – a small batch of a mingle of 200 barrels of 8 to 12 years old at 94 proof
Recipe – Same as the Evan Williams traditional bourbon recipe, but aged longer and at 94 proof.
If you want to research some words to say for your tasting, I refer you to my website, www.whiskeyprof.com and the links to A TIMELINE FOR AMERICAN WHISKEY & BOURBON IN KENTUCKY, and the link to the post on BOTTLED IN BOND.
If you don’t do that tasting for September 3rd, you can host or take your tasting to friends anytime during the month of course at any gathering…trust me, you’ll be a hit. And purchasing all 5 bottles of those whiskeys sets you back only about $100 (yes that’s for all 5!)
The third weekend of September is the Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky. For those of you in the area, c’mon down! The drive is gorgeous, and there’s quite a bit to see. The barrel rolling contest between distilleries is all day Saturday and it’s free to attend and it’s very competitive, and you can cheer for your favorite distillery teams.
Go to www.kybourbonfestival.com for detail for that, and all the festivities. WARNING: a lot of the events are sold out long in advance, but there’s still a lot to see and experience in Bardstown especially that Friday and Saturday. Hotels will not be available unless you’ve made them long in advance, so plan your designated driver accordingly, and have fun safely and wisely.
If you can’t make it to Bardstown, then hold your own Bourbon Festival Party at your house. September 16th and 17th is the weekend of the Bourbon Festival. Invite your friends over, and have a bourbon themed party and hold a bourbon tasting for them with your favorite bourbons. You can visit any of our distillers websites and learn about tasting notes, etc. for it. Even if you’re a novice, your guests will LOVE it. Remember, ¼ ounce pours in clear small plastic or glass shot glasses so not to over serve your guests. And Uber and Lyft are your friends.
Churchill Downs –is running a meet of live racing in September. They also have the Kentucky Derby museum there, and there are events hosted by bourbon author and expert, Fred Minnick. There’s not much more Kentucky you can get than bourbon and horse racing, unless you hear some good bluegrass music at the same time! You can see the dates for live racing at their home page of www.churchilldowns.com. If you aren’t here in Louisville, check out a nearby race track in your town. Where there’s live horse racing, there’s bourbon and whiskey. Expand your horizons and check it out!
Bluegrass Music – You might not think your city has bluegrass music, but trust me, it’s there. And where there’s bluegrass music, there’s whiskey! No matter where you live, trust me there’s a bluegrass jam happening probably every week somewhere near you. You’ve just not been to it before.
In Louisville, it happens every Saturday at the Goodwood Brewing Company at 636 E. Main Street (near the Sluggers baseball park). Go hear some great bluegrass, but it is a brewery, so to toast the month with bourbon, just sneak around right behind there on Market street to Haymarket Whiskey Bar, and have a sample or 2 of some Kentucky Bourbon in one of the best bourbon bars in the world. (no joke)
Also every Wednesday night at Monkey Wrench in the Highlands in Louisville a great bluegrass band called Relic plays from 9-midnight. And every Thursday my buddy and partner in crime Hickory Vaught and Friends play bluegrass and Old Timey music at the Blu Lobby Bar in the Marriott Hotel in downtown Louisville. Both are free admission, and both have a great selection of bourbon.
Just some ideas to make Bourbon Heritage Month something special. To recap:
Host your own bourbon tasting
Lead a bourbon tasting at the next gathering you attend (with your hosts permission of course)
There’s 30 days in September, so maybe you can do them all! Have fun with it, and tweet us at @heavenhill and @bernielubbers with your stories and your pictures!