If you love Bourbon as much as we do, then you know that the month of September holds special significance – that’s right, National Bourbon Heritage Month is upon us!
On August 2, 2007, the US Senate officially declared September as “National Bourbon Heritage Month” to observe the family heritage, tradition, and deep-rooted legacy the industry contributes to the United States. Sponsored by Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, the bill passed by unanimous consent and now serves to reinforce the 1964 Act of Congress declaring Bourbon as America’s only native spirit.
Fast forward to 2020, and we continue to honor that heritage and the ongoing role Bourbon has played in our economy, history, and culture as a nation. Though festivities might look a little different this year, there are still safe ways to celebrate – here’s 4.
1. Become a Bourbon Steward.
Obviously we can’t make a list of ways to honor Bourbon without mentioning our enthusiast program, Stave & Thief Society. Recognized by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) as its exclusive Bourbon education course, the Stave & Thief Society offers two opportunities to professionalize your passion for whiskey:
The Executive program involves spending a day at Moonshine University where you’ll have the time of your life as you attain a real working knowledge of Bourbon and its production. Designed for industry professionals and enthusiasts alike, this day-long workshop offers state-of-the-art classroom training in our educational distillery, hands-on distilling, and advanced sensory training, along with plenty of tasty Bourbon to enjoy throughout the day (for educational purposes, of course). By the end of the experience, you’ll have well earned the title of Executive Bourbon Steward.
Right now classes are running with reduced capacity and a new set of safety procedures to accommodate for social distancing and CDC/WHO guidelines in the face of the ongoing pandemic. Of course, if you’d rather not travel right now, there’s another option.
The Certification teaches participants the same information and skills they would gain in the Executive program, but without the experience of learning it hands-on in our educational distillery. To get certified, just order your copy of the Bourbon Steward Handbook online, study at your own pace from the comforts of home, and when you’re ready, take the online test to emerge a Certified Bourbon Steward.
In addition to joining the 3,500+ Bourbon Stewards from around the world who have graduated from either program, you’ll be able to walk away with a greater appreciation for your favorite spirit.
2. Host a Bourbon Event.
While many of the Bourbon events typical of this time of year have been canceled or postponed, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festivities. There are tons of ways to celebrate creatively, whether in-person or virtually, so why not host your own Bourbon Heritage Month experience?
Conduct a tasting among friends or challenge your Bourbon group to a flight building contest. If you’re looking for advice on how to do either, there are plenty of resources online. Whisky Advocate offers this great guide to flight building, while the Kentucky Distillers’ Association provides some expert tips for hosting a tasting.
Of course, every good event needs great food. So another idea might be to come up with a fun menu of food and drink pairings. Back in 2017, we decided to match up our favorite barbecue sauces with their perfect Bourbon companions.
You could also add a Bourbon-infused twist to your favorite recipe – maybe even make it a competition! There are plenty of sweet and savory dishes (and cocktails) to try that use Bourbon as a star ingredient, just start here.
Whatever you decide to do, if you happen to be a Bourbon Steward then you can trust that you’ll have the knowledge and skill set required to speak knowledgeably and with confidence about Bourbon.
3. Take a Trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Bourbon is a giant part of Kentucky tourism and that’s no surprise, since 95 percent of the world’s supply of it is produced in the Bluegrass State. If you want to get a closer look at the distilleries responsible for some of your favorite brands, then the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is the place to go.
If you’re willing to make the trip, it is recommended to set aside at least 8 days for touring the 18 distilleries. Here is the recommended itinerary for making the trip beginning at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center located in the Frazier Museum. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can extend your visit to hit all of the spots on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, which stretches four regions and 19 distilleries.
Can’t make it to either trail? No worries. Why not take a trip to your local distillery instead? With over 2,000 craft distilleries around the US, there’s bound to be one nearby! It’s a great way to support craft distillers, especially during these difficult times, and you can be sure that they’ve taken the appropriate precautions to remain open and operating safely.
4. Expand Your Bourbon Collection.
Speaking of supporting craft brands, consider expanding your Bourbon collection by purchasing a bottle from a smaller producer. And if you’ve already got an impressive collection, then challenge yourself to find something you haven’t tasted before. You might discover a new favorite – and do some good in the meantime! Here’s the American Distilling Institute’s craft spirits database to assist with your search.
We hope this quick list inspires you to find your own special way to show your appreciation for Bourbon. Of course, however you choose to celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month, please remember to be safe and drink responsibly!