Bourbon: as American as Old Glory
My mind has turned to bourbon as we prepare our July 14 travel section. I mean, of course, that I’m thinking a lot about bourbon since it’s interwoven with everything about Louisville, where I traveled in May to learn more about why that is. A declaration by Congress made it the only distinctly American spirit and its contents and the techniques to create it are rigidly controlled. It must, for instance, be at least 51 percent corn and be aged for at least two years in new but charred white oak barrels. But distillers manage to find variations to make their bourbon different from that of their neighbors, such as single barrel distillations, and that is part of the fascination with bourbon. It’s a fascination that has spread around the world in recent years, making sales of the American spirit skyrocket.
|Sea salt and vanilla are among the products aged in used bourbon barrels.|
Since only new barrels can be used, that means there’s a lot of leftover bourbon barrels around – something that inspired Bourbon Barrel Foods entrepreneur Matt Jamie. He ages his own soy sauce in re-purposed bourbon barrels and has found the process to be just as successful with Worcestershire sauce and vanilla. I brought back some of his bourbon infused salts and spices and they’ve brought a great bourbon flavor to foods from the grill. These uniquely Kentucky flavors make great gifts. Find them at the Butchertown Market in Louisville or order at www.bourbonbarrelfoods.com.
The majority of the used bourbon barrels are purchased by the Scots and Irish and sent back overseas to be used for aging Scotch and Irish whiskeys. Sounds to me like a win-win scenario for everyone.
Emil Paganini, a retired nephrologist and husband of my cooking school friend Loretta Paganini, is one of those who traveled Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail with a group of friends and came back smitten with collecting bourbon. It sounds a lot like the Urban Bourbon Trail I took between bourbon bars in Louisville, Only those with 50 or more bourbons are allowed to be part of it.
Loretta and Emil are collaborating on a Bourbon dinner set for Wednesday July 10 at their Sapore Restaurant in Chester Township. You’ll meet Emil in a story I’m planning for Monday’s paper, but once the paper hits doorsteps and newsstands the dinner will likely sell out quickly.
So I’m giving those who follow my blog a heads up in advance. Book that dinner and learn a lot about bourbon at www.lpscinc.com.
Then be sure to watch for the July 14 travel section, which is sure to deliver some surprises.