We live in a world where manufactured PR holidays—National Cupcake Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Accordion Awareness Month—are so ubiquitous we hardly notice them any more. But National Bourbon Heritage Month is the real deal.
In 2007, the U.S. Senate (a group who, I have to imagine, does their own personal part in supporting the nation’s spirits industry) declared the month of September to be National Bourbon Heritage Month. The bill was sponsored by senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky and was passed unanimously, perhaps the last known instance of full bipartisan agreement on any topic.
The text of the bill does cause the heart to swell with some semblance of patriotic pride. It recognizes the contributions of the early settlers, the Kentucky farming community, the many families who made Kentucky bourbon into the flagship category that it is today, and ends with reminders to enjoy bourbon “responsibly and in moderation.”
And it does seem like an especially fitting time to celebrate bourbon. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, 2016 marked yet another high water mark in the bourbon industry, which sold 21,753,000 cases and generated more than $3.1 billion in revenue. That’s 35.6% growth in case volume, and 50.5% growth in revenue, over the past five years, which means we’re not only drinking more bourbon, we’re drinking better bourbon. Cheers.
We, of course, will be recognizing the occasion—and we’re hopeful that you will, too. Kentucky is, of course, the epicenter of celebrations, with this year’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival scheduled for September 11-17. It’s a weeklong blowout celebrating all things bourbon—dinners, tastings, live music, auctions, classes, and even the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay, a barrel-rolling contest sponsored by Independent Stave.
If you’re not in Kentucky, that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate. What better time than now to catch up on past bourbon reviews, buy a few new bottles, or learn something new about America’s Native Spirit? There’s more bourbon now than ever before—and thank goodness for that.
Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is...