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Sinfully smooth: September is bourbon heritage month

September is Bourbon Heritage Month, making it the ideal moment to immerse yourself in the world of America’s official native spirit.

To commemorate the occasion, Fine Wine & Good Spirits is sharing bourbon-based cocktail recipes that pay homage to the spirit’s storied history while offering contemporary and seasonal twists.

Bourbon is a type of barrel-aged American whiskey made primarily from corn. The name derives from the French Bourbon dynasty, although the precise source of inspiration is uncertain; contenders include Bourbon County in Kentucky and Bourbon Street in New Orleans, both of which are named after the dynasty.

Something in the water

Ninety-five percent of the world’s bourbon is produced in Kentucky.

On its way to becoming bourbon, Kentucky’s water flows through limestone reserves - the same mineral said to make horses grow stronger.

Along with the ideal climate and fertile soil for growing corn and other ingredients, you’ve got yourself the perfect conditions for bourbon-making.

The oak barrel

The exact char on the new oak barrel (which is unique to each brand) is as much a part of the “recipe” for bourbon as are the grains for the mash.

Once filled, the barrels are left to age in non-environmentally controlled bourbon rickhouses. The change in temperature from season to season causes the barrels to expand and contract, allowing the bourbon to move in and out of the wood.

Because of this, a portion of the bourbon evaporates (known as the Angel’s Share). This aging process produces much of the flavor and unique color of the final product.

Once the aged bourbon is “dumped” from the barrels, the barrels remain saturated with bourbon.

As they cannot be reused for bourbon, most are sold to age other spirits. Some are employed in the manufacture of various barrel-aged products, including bourbon-barrel-aged beer, barbecue sauce, wine, hot sauce and more.

High standards

There is a very specific set of standards to which all bourbon makers must adhere.

The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be:

• Produced in the United States

• Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.

• Aged in new, charred oak barrels

• Distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume)

• Entered into the container for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume)

• Bottled at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume).

Source: Kentucky Tourism Bourbon 101

Cocktail Recipes

Apple Cider Bourbon

1 ½ oz Four Roses Straight Bourbon

3 oz apple cider

Cinnamon stick, for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except for garnish, in a rocks glass filled with ice; stir.

Garnish with cinnamon stick.

Ginger Bourbon

1 ½ oz Elijah Craig 1789 Straight Bourbon Small Batch

3 ½ oz ginger beer

Lemon wheel, for garnish

Mint sprig, for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except for garnishes, in a Collins glass filled with ice; stir.

Garnish with lemon wheel and mint sprig.

Life’s a Bowl of Cherries

2 oz Maker’s Mark Straight Bourbon

¾ oz cherry schnapps

Cherries, for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except for garnish, in a mixing glass filled with ice; stir.

Strain into a coupe glass.

Garnish with skewered cherries.

Rye Tie

1 ½ oz Redemption High Rye Bourbon

½ oz E and J Apple Flavored Brandy

½ oz Bols Blue Curaçao Liqueur

½ oz orgeat syrup

½ oz fresh lime juice

Mint sprig, for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except for garnish, in a shaker filled with ice.

Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

Garnish with mint sprig.

Apple cider bourbon
Life's A Bowl of Cherries
Bourbon Cocktail with Ginger Beer
Rye Tie