The Bluegrass State
What is the first thing you think of when someone mentions “Cuba” or “Paris”? Probably cigars and the Eiffel Tower. Now, what do you think of when you hear “Kentucky”?
Twenty years ago, when telling anyone where I was from, I would always get the response, “fried chicken and the Kentucky Derby.” Today, the response is “Jim Beam” or “Maker’s Mark” and, of course, the Derby still holds its ground. So why has chicken taken a back seat to bourbon?
The spirit’s popularity has skyrocketed recently. Unlike other intoxicants, bourbon can wear many hats. It can be a refined drink or it can be rough which explains its presence from Mad Men to Wall Street and every campfire in between.
In just sixteen years, the production of bourbon has increased by 417 per cent. 450,000 barrels were put away to be aged in 1999, compared a staggering 1.88 million barrels in 2015. It is a booming billion-dollar industry partly due to an attractive image of authenticity. Bourbon has a deep-rooted history and always comes with a legitimate “Made in the USA” stamp.
My interest and acquired appreciation for bourbon stems from my roots. Growing up in Kentucky, I was surrounded by the bourbon industry – like living and breathing wine in Bordeaux. However, I had to move thousands of miles away to accumulate pride for the product of my homeland. After a 16-year absence, I wanted to return to investigate bourbon’s stronghold on the masses.