The election season is upon us and the requisite attack ads and name calling has begun. I prefer a more positive approach to dealing with election year politics. To help you with this, I have compiled the following bourbon pairings with your favorite or not so favorite political candidate. So with a little preparation at your local liquor store, you can be ready to enjoy the next debate, caucus, or primary.
My criteria are quite simple. I picked bourbons that I am familiar with, that I have found available (I can buy it at my liquor store, at least occasionally), and that I found some tie-in, however remote, with the candidate. I will add that I am not endorsing a particular candidate (I do endorse the bourbon), nor have any of the brands mentioned endorsed any candidates as far as I know. The comments are for entertainment and an excuse to drink bourbon only.
Finally, I believe bourbon is the ideal spirit to connect with political campaigns. After all, with the requisite mash bill of at least 51% corn, it coincides nicely with the messages of the candidates.
Let’s start with the Democratic Party. You may not know it, but historically there was such a thing as a Bourbon Democrat.
From Wikipedia, “Bourbon Democrat was a term used in the United States from 1876 to 1904 to refer to a conservative or classical liberal member of the Democratic Party. Bourbon Democrats were promoters of a form of laissez-faire capitalism which included opposition to the protectionism that the Republicans were then advocating as well as fiscal discipline. “ Perhaps it has always been somewhat difficult to tell the parties apart.
Even though it was reported that she visited the Makers Mark distillery and dipped her own bottle, I am going a different direction with Hillary. I think the perfect bourbon for Mrs. Clinton’s supporters is Four Roses single barrel. With their unique approach to labeling the bottles with the location of the barrel in the rick house, you can get a slightly different product with every bottle. Not to mention you have to know the “secret” code. (the fact that Four Roses is foreign-owned, Kirin Brewery Co., has nothing to do with this selection).
Unfortunately for Bernie the origin of the term “bourbon” is about as opposite of socialism as can be (originally referring to the French Bourbon royalty). His home state of Vermont, with their somewhat quirky individualism, is experiencing something of a craft distillery boom. Some of the names are Smugglers’ Notch Bourbon and WhistlePig Rye. Unfortunately these are not actually distilled in Vermont (at least not yet). So for Bernie, I chose an independent distillery, Hudson Baby Bourbon. It is distilled in the Northeast (New York) and has been given high marks critically. While I would have preferred something older for Mr. Sanders, Hudson Baby should not disappoint.
First, let me say that there are so many candidates I will only deal with some of the front runners. If I missed your favorite, please contribute in the comments with your choice, of bourbon for them. A recent study from National Media Research suggests that Democrats prefer clear spirits while Republicans like brown liquor (Bourbon), so this should be easy.
With his Cuban roots, one immediately thinks of rum so I am going to take the easy out and go with Makers Mark (Marco?) for him. While I admit it is not a very clever choice, but with Mr. Rubio’s position as a strong red (dipped) republican conservative, I think it works.
Dr. Ben Carson
He is on record as a non-drinker for both personal and religious reasons. I get that and it is not a problem for me, but if you’re a Carson supporter I believe it is OK to drink. My choice for Dr. Ben is Blanton’s. To me Blanton’s is a smooth, kind of quiet bourbon with an educated sophistication. It is somewhat rare, like the candidate, but it can be found.
I don’t know if he drinks bourbon but it sure seems like he would. Mr. Christy seems like a basic man of the people, a two-fisted New Jersey guy. For Chris Christy I chose the basic Jim Beam, everyman bourbon for an everyman guy.
Being the son and brother to former presidents I think the choice for Jeb is Angel’s Envy. I find Angel’s Envy to be great bourbon with the right name. AE is a highly rated spirit that is readily available, but just doesn’t seem to get the traction of some of its competitors.
Ted is another tough pairing, also being of Cuban descent, and with no obvious bourbon tie-ins. Being born in Canada doesn’t help either. He used to be friends with Rand Paul but even that seems to be on the outs now. So I pick Bullet Bourbon for Ted. Only because the name reminds me of Texas (I know there are Texas bourbons, but none I am familiar with). Also, I like its bite, which kind of reminds me of Mr. Cruz.
Okay, he may not be in the top-tier anymore, but he is from KENTUCKY, so he gets a mention. Rand picked his own pairing on the Daily Show, when he had his bourbon debate–Woodford Reserve.
The Donald famously has his own brand of Vodka and reportedly is not a drinker himself. I think the only choice is Pappy Van Winkle (whatever age you can get), since he is the only one on the stage who can afford it. Also, with the fact that you can sell an empty bottle for nearly $100, you can never be quite sure when buying it what you are getting. If you can’t get any for your election cycle, you have a couple of choices. First you could choose a running mate, or just opt for a W.L. Weller product made in the same distillery. Jefferson would be a good choice and it’s so Presidential.
Those are my recommendations so happy, very happy campaigning.