National Bourbon Day: A Tribute to America's Iconic Spirit
Image Credit: Four bottles of Kentucky whiskey, the left being Kentucky bourbon. Image via Wikimedia Commons

National Bourbon Day, celebrated on June 14 every year, is a day dedicated to honouring one of the most iconic alcoholic beverages in the world. 

As a bourbon enthusiast, one would definitely want to enjoy this smooth, delicious spirit with fellow aficionados and newcomers alike. So, let's raise a glass to the rich history of bourbon and learn how to make the perfect bourbon cocktail to mark this special occasion.

The Origins of Bourbon

Bourbon, an American spirit, can be made anywhere in the United States but is mainly distilled in Kentucky, where 95 per cent of the world's supply is produced. The origins of bourbon can be traced back to the 18th century when Scots-Irish, Welsh, German, Irish, French, and English immigrants settled in the area. Although the exact inventor of bourbon whiskey remains unknown, it is believed to have been developed between the 1850s and 1870s.

The name "bourbon" has a similarly mysterious history. Some believe it was named after Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it was originally distilled, while others argue that it was named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Regardless of its origins, bourbon has become a symbol of American heritage and a beloved spirit enjoyed by millions around the world.

The Art of Bourbon Making

To be classified as bourbon, the spirit must adhere to specific production standards. According to US regulations, bourbon must be made from at least 51% corn, stored in new charred oak barrels, and distilled to no more than 160-proof or 80% alcohol. While all bourbons are whiskeys, not all whiskeys can be considered bourbons.

The unique production process of bourbon imparts distinct flavours and characteristics to the spirit. The use of charred oak barrels, for instance, lends bourbon its signature amber hue and imparts rich, complex flavours such as caramel, vanilla, and oak.

Celebrating National Bourbon Day

National Bourbon Day is the perfect opportunity to indulge in your favourite bourbon or discover new brands and flavours. Some of the most renowned bourbons produced in the U.S. include Jim Beam's Knob Creek, Elijah Craig, Wild Turkey, Four Roses, Old Forester, Maker's Mark, and Woodford Reserve. As you savour your chosen bourbon, share your experience on social media using the hashtag #NationalBourbonDay to connect with fellow enthusiasts.

Crafting the Perfect Bourbon Cocktail

To commemorate National Bourbon Day, why not try your hand at creating a classic bourbon cocktail? The Old Fashioned is a timeless choice that showcases the rich flavours of bourbon. Here's a simple recipe to help you craft the perfect Old Fashioned:


- 60ml bourbon

- 1 sugar cube or 1/2 tsp sugar

- 2 dashes Angostura bitters

- 1 orange or lemon peel

- Ice

- Maraschino cherry (optional)


1. Place the sugar cube or sugar in an Old Fashioned glass.

2. Add the bitters and a splash of water, then muddle the sugar until it dissolves.

3. Fill the glass with ice and pour in the bourbon.

4. Stir gently to combine the ingredients.

5. Express the citrus peel over the glass by holding it over the drink and giving it a good twist to release the oils. Optionally, you can run the peel around the rim of the glass for added aroma.

6. Garnish with the citrus peel and, if desired, a maraschino cherry.

Exploring Bourbon Food Pairings

To elevate your National Bourbon Day experience, consider exploring the world of bourbon and food pairings. The complex flavours of bourbon can complement and enhance a variety of dishes, creating a harmonious and memorable dining experience. Here are some suggestions for pairing bourbon with different types of food:

1. Cheese: The rich, creamy textures of cheese can be beautifully balanced by the bold flavours of bourbon. Try pairing your favourite bourbon with aged cheddar, Gouda, or blue cheese for a delightful contrast of flavours.

2. Chocolate: The sweetness of chocolate can bring out the caramel and vanilla notes in bourbon, creating a decadent and indulgent combination. Pair your bourbon with dark chocolate or chocolate-based desserts for a luxurious treat.

3. Barbeque: The smoky, charred flavours of barbequed meats are a natural match for the robust character of bourbon. Enjoy your bourbon alongside slow-cooked ribs, pulled pork, or brisket for a true taste of the American South.

4. Spicy dishes: The heat and spice of dishes like Indian or Mexican cuisine can be tempered by the smooth, warming qualities of bourbon. Sip on your favourite bourbon as you tuck into a spicy meal for a well-rounded and satisfying dining experience.

5. Seafood: While not an obvious choice, bourbon can also pair well with certain seafood dishes. The sweetness of bourbon can complement the natural sweetness of shellfish like scallops, shrimp, or lobster, creating a unique and delicious pairing.

National Bourbon Day is a spirited celebration of America's native spirit and its rich history. As you raise a glass of bourbon or sip on a perfectly crafted Old Fashioned, take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into producing this iconic beverage.