Bourbon is so great, it has an entire month devoted to it. This important milestone was instituted in 2007 by the U.S. Senate, who declared that every September should be celebrated as National Bourbon Heritage Month, as a nod to bourbon’s role as “America’s Native Spirit.”
For conscientious Americans, that makes it practically imperative to honor bourbon, and in past years, we’ve stepped up courageously to do our civic duty.
But 2020 has been a different beast, due to the coronavirus and the impositions it has cast upon our joyous whiskey pursuits.
Revered annual festivals like Hometown Rising, Louder Than Life, and Bourbon & Beyond, held in Louisville, Kentucky, have been canceled. And the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, a week-long event in Bardstown dedicated to saluting the art and history of bourbon, has been moved online.
But we shall not be deterred. We will find other, creative ways to pay tribute to this most glorious spirit.
Attend an event virtually.
If you’ve always wanted to hit the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival but were never able to get away, for the first time, you can participate from the comfort of your own home. You’ll see expert panels and instructional sessions on topics such as fermentation and aging, with a glass in your hand, no Uber ride needed. The 2020 version runs from October 15-18.
Bone up on bourbon history.
The catalog of books about booze is wonderfully deep, with bourbon its own glorious subset. Go hyper-local with Prohibition in Bardstown: Bourbon, Bootlegging & Saloons, a 2016 book by bourbon historian Dixie Hibbs and former University of Kentucky professor Doris Settles that reveals the history of the Bourbon Capital of the World.
Check out a bourbon podcast.
If reading is too thinky, maybe listening is more to your taste. Sit in on a podcast by Steve Akley, author and co-host of popular podcast The Bourbon Daily, where his frequent sessions include everything from classes to tastings to meet-and-greets with famous distillers.
Branch out and try a new bourbon.
What better way to hail bourbon than add a new one to your list? Lux Row Distillers’ portfolio is brimming with opportunity. May we suggest Daviess County Bourbon, the newest member of the Lux Row family that features a unique blend of ryed and wheated mashbills.
Experiment with bourbon in the kitchen.
Cooking with bourbon is fun. With its sweet and smoky profile, it asserts itself wherever it goes, and it’s also versatile — as fantastic with savory dishes as it is with sweet.
The easiest way to get started is to create a multipurpose sauce that can be used for meats, veggies, or dessert. Combine 1/4 cup each of butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is melted. Add 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of bourbon and stir. Then add 1/4 cup of honey. Let cool slightly, and it’s ready to drizzle over bread pudding or be brushed onto chicken wings.
Gather your loved ones — the ones with whom you can hang out without a mask — and put together a fun, casual, informative bourbon tasting.
A whiskey tasting also makes a fun theme for a virtual party — which takes us to our next idea.
Host an online happy hour.
Everyone’s Zooming these days, and it’s no wonder why. An online video conference lets you catch up with friends you haven’t seen in months, all while sharing a bourbon. In fact, email your best whiskey cocktail recipe to your circle ahead of time, so everyone can whip theirs up, and you’re all enjoying the same drink, just as if you were hanging in person. You can trade tasting notes and toast each other face-to-face — sort of.
Try a bourbon DIY project.
Crafty people love bourbon, too. (Everyone loves bourbon!) Have some empty bottles lying around? Recycle them by turning one into a soap dispenser (just remove the label — or not — and add a soap dispenser pump to the top of it). Or add some string lights inside a bottle, and you have instant mood lighting. If you’re into wood, maybe try your hand at making a handsome tray on which to store your bourbon. And needlepoint is something everyone can do. Here’s your chance to display your favorite whiskey slogan on a pillow or wall hanging. Perhaps this quote by Raymond Chandler: “There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.”