I didn't have any of the bourbon, but I ate up the presentation by Maker's Mark ambassador, John E. Vickers-Smith, II. John told everyone about the colorful history of the drink, and I learned so much! (I love learning new things--can you tell I'm a geek??) Here are some of the more fascinating facts about this truly American drink:
- Bourbon is the only liquor that can be claimed as American. Congress actually passed a resolution in 1964 proclaiming this. The United States is the only country where bourbon is made.
- It was also in 1964 that regulations were developed to standardize the drink. These four traits are still used today:
A. Bourbon must be made in America.
B. It must be created in white American charred oak barrels. Each barrel is used only once.
C. 51% of the sourmash used to create the drink must be made of corn.
D. Distillation proof must be at 125% and cannot exceed 160%
- In recent years, bourbon has increased in popularity. After vodka, it is the second most sought after spirit.
- In addition to gaining popularity here in the United States, bourbon is also enjoyed througout Europe and in China and Japan.
- Finally, I have to touch on bourbon's connection to the Kentucky Derby. Mind you, I'm opposed to any horse and dog racing, but I can appreciate the cultural aspects of these events. Anyway, back in the day, bourbon was taken from Kentucky south to New Orleans, where it was shipped to France and other countries. The men who floated the bourbon down the Mississippi to Louisiana often rode thourobred horses back to Kentucky. Those horses became a staple in the state and, as they say, the rest is history.