September is upon us, and that means something very important! Beyond pumpkin spice, crunchy leaves, caramel apples and sweaters, there is something very important about September -- it is also Bourbon Heritage Month.
Did we just hear a collective sigh, readers? First of all, calm down. Sure, there are a lot of food and drink holidays out there, but there's a good reason why Bourbon Heritage Month beats National Fried Chicken Day and National Tequila Day -- it's a totally real and widespread celebration that the state of Kentucky celebrates every year.
Here's what happens: Every September, the governor of bourbon's home state signs a declaration to celebrate Kentucky's whiskey heritage all month, and the festivities begin, according to the Huffington Post. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival commences, complete with mechanical bulls, top-notch cigars and, of course, whiskey tastings. The stills also open back up by September after traditionally closing down for a short period of time in August for some routine maintenance.
If you're going to visit Kentucky for whiskey-related reasons, September would absolutely be the perfect time. But if the journey is not in the cards for you, don't fret!
While a good Kentucky bourbon may or may not taste just as good in its hometown, it'll still taste pretty darn good on your balcony or comfy recliner. Start by grabbing a quality bourbon and a tasting glass, snifter, white wine glass or anything similarly bulbous with a narrow top to trap the flavors, like this:
When tasting bourbon, it's important to pay attention to these four essential categories, as detailed by Modern Thirst:
Hold your glass up to the light or a white piece of paper and swirl it around a little. Is it clear or cloudy? Light amber or dark mahogany? Take note -- this has everything to do with age, proof and filtration methods.
Part your lips slightly and stick your nose in the opening of the glass. What do you smell? Charred oak? Smoke? Pipe tobacco? Vanilla? Cherry? Leather?
Don't you dare gulp or "shoot" good bourbon! Take a good sized mouthful and do the "Kentucky Chew" -- move the bourbon around your mouth with a chewing motion. Notice how it tastes in each different flavor zone of your mouth before swallowing.
Does the taste linger (long finish) or quickly dissipate (short finish)? Do you taste anything different after swallowing? What textures do you feel in your mouth? Does your upper body feel warm, a la the "Kentucky Hug"? Take note.
Try not to "cheat" by reading a review of your whiskey before tasting it, as you might have a completely different experience than what you read. Start with this graphic and see what you find: