This year we've been struggling to conjure up the patriotic feels, what with the baby prisons and a sociopath in the White House, but if there's one American tradition we can take comfort in, it's bourbon!
So let's get in the mood for Independence Day next week by learning a little more about one American tradition we can be proud of: bourbon!
I know it's corny, but... USA! USA! USA!
A distinctly American tradition, bourbon can only be made in the USA. Although 95% of bourbon is made in Kentucky, it can be made any place in the USA, just as long as it's made from a mash that consists of at least 51% corn.
More bourbon barrels than people in Kentucky?!
Yes, it's true. Probably because by law all bourbon whiskey has to be aged in brand new, charred oak barrels. To avoid letting the barrels go to waste, many distilleries sell their used barrels to other alcohol companies, which may have something to do with the rise of barrel-aged craft beers. We're not complaining; bring on the barrel-aged boozy goodness!
But I have a doctor's note!
It seems marijuana has a little something in common with bourbon. During the American alcohol prohibition era people could buy bourbon if they had a medical prescription. I have, uh, back pain... Thankfully, the alcohol prohibition was finally lifted and we imagine the same will be true for Mary Jane before long.
Yet another reason bourbon doesn't suck...
You can thank bourbon for the invention of straws. Until the late 19th century people sipped cocktails through stalks of rye grass, leaving a gross residue as they deteriorated. Inventor Marvin Stone got fed up with his beloved Mint Juleps being sullied by rye grass grime and began wrapping strips of paper around a pencil to create a sturdy cylinder through which to imbibe his favorite drink. Stone's invention caught on quickly and was even patented in 1888.
This monkey's gone to heaven
As bourbon ages in barrels, the wood shrinks and expands with the seasons, causing the bourbon to seep into and back out of the wood, adding that oaky flavor we all know and love. As this process takes place a 53 gallon barrel of bourbon loses about 4% of its contents to evaporation each year; this evaporated bourbon is referred to as the "Angel's Share", because supposedly even the angels can't resist a sip of the sweet boozy goodness!
Want to enjoy this American tradition for the Fourth of July? Liquor.com says they've got the only Mint Julep recipe you'll ever need. We'll be the judge of that next week. Until then...
Peace, love and bourbon,