Tuesday, August 26, 2008

September is Kentucky Bourbon Heritage Month

Just in time for the swift-boating olympics the repugs call a convention, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has declared September "Kentucky Bourbon Heritage Month."

In the immortal words of Dave Barry: I am not making this up.

“Kentucky bourbon has become not only an American icon, but a leading international symbol of our proud heritage and craftsmanship,” Beshear said. “It has benefitted generations of Kentuckians, and its increasing appeal will mean even larger rewards for the Commonwealth.

“We’re proud that Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon. It’s an honor to declare September ‘Bourbon Heritage Month’ in recognition of bourbon’s significant economic, agricultural and tourism impact in Kentucky and beyond.”

(More after the jump)

For you liquor philistines out there, only bourbon distilled in Kentucky is genuine bourbon. Slapping a "bourbon" label on some rot-gut bottled in, say, Tennessee, is actually against federal law. Ask the ATF. So make sure you're drinking real Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Kentucky is home to historic distillers and international companies that together produce and market more than 95 percent of the world’s bourbon: Brown-Forman, Buffalo Trace, Constellation Spirits, Diageo North America, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

At the risk of offending some excellent bourbons, some of those labels are better with mixers than straight. My personal preference for a genuine sipping bourbon is Woodford Reserve, though Knob Creek is also quite fine. And the classic bourbon for Kentucky Derby Mint Juleps is Maker's Mark.

Bourbon production has more than doubled since 1999, the year the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was formed, said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. New production last year was 937,865 barrels, compared to 455,078 in 1999.

Distilled spirits have a tremendous impact on Kentucky’s economy, Gregory said, including:

  • More than $3 billion in gross state product
  • More than 3,000 high-paying jobs
  • Nearly $115 million in state and local taxes
  • In addition, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has become one of the state’s most famous and fastest growing tourist attractions, Gregory said, with travelers from all 50 states and 25 countries visiting the landmark distilleries.

And the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, held the third week in September each year, has grown to more than 55,000 visitors from 40 states and 14 countries, said Milt Spalding, the festival’s executive director.

“Bourbon is America’s only native spirit, and it’s uniquely Kentucky,” Gregory said. “We appreciate the support of Gov. Beshear and his administration in promoting Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry and celebrating its rich history and spirited future.”

Dick Cheney is addressing the repug convention on Monday night, September 1. Be sure to stock up before Sunday.

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.