Tag Archives: bourbon heritage month

National Bourbon Heritage Month

bourbon curiousOf all the “National _______________ Days” that seem to come daily on our social feeds, this one is unique because¬†it wasn’t created in a marketing department or PR office, but by¬†congress. That’s right, the U.S. Senate declared September¬†National Bourbon Heritage Month back in 2007, a “month to celebrate America’s Native Spirit,” the¬†official title¬†also given by congress back in the 60’s.

Clearly, the best way to¬†celebrate¬†bourbon is by¬†drinking¬†bourbon, but first, it’d be wise to learn all we can¬†about it so that we can find bourbons we like. I’ve been talking about it a little bit on the podcast, but the new book by Fred Minnick,¬†Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker¬†is deeply¬†interesting and unmistakably helpful.

Covering many details of bourbon making and history (did you know Tabasco sauce is aged in bourbon barrels?), Minnick leads us into the final 1/3 of his¬†book: a highly-valuable tasting guide. Categorizing bourbon flavor profiles into 4 groups, grain-forward, nutmeg-forward, caramel-forward and cinnamon-forward, I realized quickly that the bourbons I’ve loved the most were in the cinnamon category.

four roses bourbon

…..then I realized that Simple Cocktails had previously missed¬†an entire brand¬†of cinnamon-forward bourbons. I’m not exactly sure why, but I has thought Four Roses was an¬†expensive, exclusive bourbon,¬†so I figured it’d be hard to cover here, but after reading Bourbon Curious, I noted that Four Roses¬†is one of the oldest, most respectable bourbon brands in the flavor category I love the most, and I had to grab some immediately. Continue reading

Bourbon Heritage Month 2013

bourbon heritage month

Bourbon Heritage Month is built on 2 congressional declarations: in 1964, Congress declared bourbon America’s Native Spirit, then in 2007, ¬†Congress named September National Bourbon Heritage Month.

Last year, I talked you though 6 of the most popular brands of bourbon. This year, I grabbed some less familiar bourbon brands and tasted them throughout September. Remember that to be legally called bourbon, a spirit must be:

  • Distilled from a grain mash that‚Äôs at least 51% corn.
  • Aged in new, charred, oak barrels for a period of time (not specified).
  • Distilled and aged in the United States.

Here were the sippers that I enjoyed in September 2013 for Bourbon Heritage Month:

Peach Street Colorado ($66): Aged 9 years and bottled at 92 proof. This is an amazing bourbon – complex, strong, spicy, and a tad sweet. If you pressed me and the mood was right, I might tell you that this is the best bourbon I’ve ever had. I’ve become a big fan of Colorado whiskey.

Col. E. H. Taylor Small Batch ($45):Aged 7 years and bottled at 100 proof. A great, balanced bourbon with a bunch of history distilled in the bottle. There’s a good, sweet, and almost fruity, flavor to this bourbon.

McAfee’s Benchmark No. 8 ($12): No age statement, bottled at 80 proof. You will discover online that¬†many claim this as the best bourbon you can buy for $12. I made a Manhattan with it, and it is a very good bourbon, though compared to pricier offerings, McAfee’s tastes a little bit young and¬†hot.

Bourbon Heritage Month

Knob Creek, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, Maker's Mark Bourbons

National Bourbon Heritage Month is September, and this year I decided that it was about time to give a whole bunch of bourbon whiskey a try. I drank bourbon all month, and now it’s time for a report.

To be legally called bourbon, a spirit must be:

  • Distilled from a grain mash that’s at least 51% corn
  • Aged in new, charred, oak barrels for a period of time (not specified)
  • Distilled and aged in the United States.

Congress recognized bourbon in 1964 as “America’s Official Native Spirit,” and while not required to be made in Kentucky, 90% of bourbon is. I tried bourbons from Knob Creek, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, and Maker’s Mark, and outside of the above characteristics, they vary quite a bit from each other. A good bourbon is usually sweet from the corn and quite smooth, but there are some unique characteristics that each of these has:

Knob Creek ($30): Corn, rye, and barley, aged 9 years, 100 proof, black stamped wax seal on the bottle. Pretty spicy, and not the smoothest of the bunch. Abraham Lincoln’s father distilled whiskey near Knob Creek, and Hank served Walt some of this in the mid-season finale of Breaking Bad a few weeks ago.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve ($40): Corn, rye, and barley, aged 9 years, black stamped wax seal on the bottle. Significantly smoother than it’s little brother and absolutely delicious. Add water, ice, or both, because this one is bottled at 120 proof.

Buffalo Trace ($20-25): Corn, rye, and barley, aged at least 8 years, 90 proof. Very spicy to the point you might mistaken it for a rye whiskey and likely the best bourbon you can drink in it’s price range.

Bulleit ($35): Known for being a bourbon with high rye content, it’s probably the spiciest bourbon you’ll try. Aged at least 6 years, 90 proof. These iconic bottles were used as props in the bars on Deadwood.

Maker’s Mark ($30): A stand-out in this bunch, Maker’s uses no rye and instead uses red winter wheat with the corn and barley mash. Aged “to taste,” so usually 5-8 years, 90 proof, with the red wax seal. The wheat makes Maker’s very smooth, probably the most accessible of the bunch. You can seal your own bottle with wax if you visit the distillery.

Maker’s 46 ($40): Similar to Maker’s in every way but one: when a barrel of Maker’s Mark is ready, it’s removed from the barrel and 10 seared French oak staves are added to the barrel. Maker’s 46 is then aged “for several more months,” then bottled at 94 proof. Maker’s 46 is a more serious, spicy drink than the standard Maker’s. The number 46 represents how many variations of a “new” Maker’s Mark they tried before the distillery settled on this product.

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