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National Bourbon Day, June 14, 2022 | The History of Bourbon

Today is National Bourbon Day and if you have not already penciled this into your calendar for each June 14th, consider this your reminder to do so!

How did bourbon get its name?

In the late 1700’s a gentleman named Elijah Craig started using old barrels that had fish in them to store whiskey – which as you can imagine did not do much for the flavor. To combat this, Craig charred the inside of the barrels which helped eliminate the fishy situation that was going on. The barrels were stamped with “Bourbon County” their origin, and shipped to New Orleans, a trip which at this time in history took around three months to complete. During these months of sloshing around in the de-funkified (yes I made that word up) charred oak barrels, the whiskey took on a mellower and more oaky flavor. The good folks down in New Orleans enjoyed this whiskey so much that they asked for more of “that whiskey from Bourbon” drawing from the stamped origin so noted on the barrels, providing the eponym for Bourbon as we know it today.

Bourbon has come a long way from its humble beginnings sloshing around in old fish barrels, and in 1964 Congress declared bourbon a “distinctive product of the United States.” Bourbon is about as American as apple pie, football or lifted pickup trucks.

How to Celebrate National Bourbon Day Appropriately

pappy van winkle 15 year old with bourboneur glencairn glass

Well, first thing is first and that is to pour yourself a dram of whatever bourbon suits your fancy. It is an intuitive first step in enjoying a day devoted to Bourbon. Your drink need not necessarily be neat, and there is a litany of great Bourbon cocktails out there to choose from. If you are looking however for some inspiration and what I would consider the “Top Five Drinks You Need to Know” I have a whole blog article dedicated to detailing these Bourbon cocktails, with recipes and pro tips that you can find here.

National Bourbon Day falls on a Tuesday this year, so you are probably not going to be getting too crazy – but – you could always consider doing a bourbon tasting. I am hosting a Bourbon tasting at my house in a few weeks with some of my good Bourbon drinking buds and will use our Bourboneur Tasting Sheet which you can find here. It’s a great way to stack up different spirits side-by-side. Explore how to further appreciate your whiskey with an explanation of tasting notes that will help you step up your game here. If you really want to go all out, you could consider adding some food to the equation; there's a whole litany of interesting variations of food that pair with bourbon that can help you bring out all that your bourbon has to offer, more on the foodie/bourbon front here. Remember that when you do a tasting, everyone comes at it from a different place and so be inclusive in hearing what each person is catching in the various Bourbon’s taste and smell. Heck, maybe you just want to do this by yourself too which is totally fine. A Bourbon tasting can be a solo endeavor or a team sport – up to you!

Maybe none of that sounds of much interest and you are just looking for a chill night at home without much fanfare. Kick back with your favorite bourbon and stream the Bourbon documentary Neat. It is a fun, informative look into the world of Bourbon and really provides great color on the evolution of the spirit here in the states.

Bourbon Tasting Sheet for National Bourbon Day

Cheers, Bourboneurs! Happy National Bourbon Day! Don't forget to download and print your bourbon tasting sheet to commemorate the occasion.

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