The Rich History of Bourbon, From Prohibition to Global Icon
In today’s history lesson, we are tracing the origins of the amber-hued love of the American South, Bourbon. To begin with, this is a story rich in flavour, weaving through the fabric of American history with the kind of command that only a true icon can muster. So, let’s take a scrumptious stroll down memory lane, shall we?
Where it all began
Bourbon’s tale starts in the late-1700s, in the hills of the American countryside in Kentucky. The early American settlers turned to local resources to conjure up this concoction, which many claim was not an experiment but a well-thought-out affair. This recipe combined corn with a little rye or wheat and some malted barley and resulted in what became synonymous with liquid gold and American craftsmanship.
Prohibition and the rise of speakeasies
Fast forward to the 1920s, America hits the pause button on booze during Prohibition. It was a time when the nation turned to abstinence, but let’s just say Bourbon didn’t exactly disappear. Speakeasies flourished and so did the Bourbon distilleries. Illicit watering holes in hidden establishments kept the spirit flowing, quite literally.
Post-Prohibition: The rise of Bourbon
Prohibition’s revocation in 1933 was like the break of dawn for Bourbon. Distilleries, no longer in the shadows, began to refine and celebrate their craft. It was during this time that bourbon truly began to find its feet and its flavour.
Charred oak barrels made a comeback, mounted across bars and distilleries, lending the drink that sweet, mellow taste. It all started to come together in a way that caught the nation’s attention, and everyone fell in love with the drink once again.
Bourbon goes global
In the modern era, whisky is no longer just America’s darling; it’s a global sensation. There’s something about its rich caramel tones and hint of Southern charm that has captured the hearts of whisky lovers worldwide.
Bourbon has found its way into some of the world’s most iconic bars and into the glasses of drinkers everywhere, from classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned to more adventurous concoctions. Many experiential drinkers have even started ageing bourbon at home, experimenting with barrels with different wood finishes and types.
What makes bourbon, well, bourbon? It’s all in the craft. The strict adherence to a mash bill with at least 51% corn, ageing in newly charred oak barrels and the distillation process—it's a recipe that’s been honed over centuries. Each distillery has its own secrets and renditions of tradition, making each bourbon unique.
A cultural frenzy
Today, bourbon isn’t just a drink but a cultural phenomenon. It symbolises Kentucky derbies and the slow yet leisurely Southern charm. Moreover, distillery tours and bourbon tastings are as much a part of American tourism as the coveted historical landmarks adorning towns and cities.
So, there you have it—the story of Bourbon, from its humble beginnings to its current position as a global icon. Cheers to this iconic spirit!