Drink more bourbon. Hey, let’s start with one we all know we can keep.
Sample widely; buy selectively. Friends, there are a lot of bourbons out there. Here in Kentucky, we are particularly blessed by a bountiful selection. It’s tempting to pick up a bottle – or two! – every time you visit a liquor store. But this year, I’m going to be more selective. I’m going to take advantage of great bourbon bars like Silver Dollar Lounge, Bourbons Bistro and others to sample new brands, then buy only those I really enjoy. Start your new year with a shot of whiskey you’ve never tried, neat.
Be bitter. Increased interest in cocktails has brought about a renaissance of classic ingredients, perhaps none moreso than bitters. Did you know that all the Peychaud’s bitters in the world are made right here in Kentucky, at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort? The distillery also makes Regan’s, orange-flavored bitters created by Gary Regan. You can find bitters in lots of flavors now. I received the two concoctions from Louisville’s BD Bittering, above, for Christmas; they came from Westport Whiskey and Wine. I look forward to experimenting with them – any suggestions?
Get crafty. The biggest news on the distilling front this past year was the growth of craft distillers, also known as microdistillers. Kentucky now has enough of them that the Kentucky Distillers’ Association started a new Bourbon Trail Craft Tour to complement the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience. Get your passport stamped at all seven of the craft distillers and receive a special flask. I need to get busy on this one – I’ve only visited one, Limestone Branch in Lebanon. For the complete list of member craft distilleries and details of the tour, click here.
Learn something. I know a tremendous amount about bourbon, but I consider myself a lifelong learner – especially when the homework is this much fun. Happily, there are lots of options for continuing education. I plan to attend (finally!) Whisky Fest in Chicago this year, and hope to enroll in the Bourbon Academy at Woodford Reserve. The Bourbon Classic in March in Louisville will pair great chefs with master distillers. And groups like the Bourbon Women Association and the Bourbon Society will continue to provide multiple opportunities to meet bourbon makers and sample rare bourbons.
Cheers to a great year in bourbon!