Sip the secrets behind America’s most iconic spirit.
It’s as American as apple pie, and perhaps beloved even more so. From dingy dive bars to exclusive members-only clubs, bourbon has graced tumblers since the late 18th century, when Kentucky settlers discovered corn grew better than other grains and used the local crop to make whiskey. Beyond that, its origins—and name—are murkier than a muddled orange at the bottom of an old-fashioned. But here’s what we do know: For a whiskey to be labeled as bourbon, it must be made in the United States from a minimum of 51 percent corn; aged in new, charred American oak barrels for a minimum of two years; and be no more than 160 proof, all as laid out by Congress in May 1964. We also know it’s one of America’s favorite tipples. (In fact, in 2017, total American whiskey sales topped $3 billion, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.)
There’s no better place to discover the spirit’s roots than in the Bluegrass State: More than 90 percent of the nation’s bourbon is made within a 90-minute drive of Louisville. All around the surrounding countryside, you can experience everything from intimate tastings to distillery tours and cooperage visits, complete with an official Kentucky Bourbon Trail to follow. Established in 1999, this fully signed route celebrates its 20-year anniversary in 2019, and its 15 destination distilleries include legends such as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve (the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby).
THREE BOURBON COCKTAILS TO TRY
2 oz bourbon
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube
In a glass, muddle the sugar cube, orange peel, and bitters. Add bourbon and ice, and stir before drinking.
2 oz bourbon
6–10 fresh mint leaves
½ oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, stirred to dissolve)
Combine all ingredients in a glass and, using the back of a spoon, press the mint leaves around the walls of the glass to release their natural oils. Fill the glass with crushed ice and drink through a straw.
1½ oz bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz Campari
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with an orange twist. To learn more about Bourbon and cultural traveler food experiences, visit HERE