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Issue 131 - Is Kentucky The home of Bourbon?

Whisky Magazine Issue 131
October 2015

 

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Is Kentucky The home of Bourbon?

Or can you make it anywhere?

As the long line wrapped around the bar, I noticed an older woman intensely staring at me. Did she hate my ascot? Did I remind her of her son? I mean, she was really staring at me with the kind of gaze that could go either way.

I had just finished a quick 15 minute talk about Bourbon. Conventions and companies frequently book me for Bourbon tastings. I give a quick talk, offering a short Bourbon history and brief tasting profile of each of the products at my tasting bar. They are a lot of fun. And this woman either loved or hated it.

She slowly walked toward me, obviously with something to say.

“Bourbon must be made in Kentucky. I'm from here. I know,” she said.

Oh yes. The classic passionate Kentuckian who hates that part of my discussion, where I debunk the myth that Bourbon must be made in Kentucky. In 1964, the US Congress gave Bourbon a US only product distinction, similar geographical protections that Scotch, Cognac and Champagne enjoy in their respective regions. I usually say something to the effect, “In fact, Bourbon is currently distilled and bottled in New York, California, Wyoming and Washington, among other states.” I usually get an “Oh, I didn't know that” reaction or “Yeah, everybody knows that” response from a typical mixed crowd.

In these wonderful rare moments of misunderstanding, I get the opportunity to educate somebody about the fun and quite delicious Bourbons distilled at the likes of Garrison Brothers in Texas. Most passionate ...

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