2020 was a hell of a year. 2021 started with much hope, but we seem to be on a backslide. If you’re ready to turn things around for September, Bourbon & Banter has the means to help you concentrate on something fun.
You see, if it is September, it must be Bourbon Heritage Month. That must mean it is time for the seventh annual 30 Days of Bourbon Challenge!
Wait, what’s that? You’ve never heard of the 30 Days of Bourbon Challenge?
No problem, I’ll tell you all about it.
For as many years as I’ve been into Bourbon, my bucket list includes going to the Bourbon Heritage Festival. But, as what has happened every single year, and what will happen again in 2021 (yeah, yeah, shocker), is that it will remain unfilled on that list. However, seven years ago, I set myself a goal to do something special to celebrate America’s Native Spirit. What I came up with was the 30 Days of Bourbon challenge – 30 different bourbons in 30 days.
You already drink a glass of bourbon everyday so what' so special about that you say?
Well my whiskey guzzling friend, there's more to this challenge than simply drinking bourbon everyday.
The rules are pretty simple: This is a Bourbon challenge. No Rye, Scotch, Irish, Indian, Taiwanese, Canadian, Japanese, Australian, yadda, yadda, yadda. If it ain’t Bourbon, it doesn’t count. There's nothing saying you can’t drink and enjoy those other types of whiskey but they don't count for this challenge. If you're going to participate in this challenge only bourbon counts.
Argue all you want, but Tennessee Whisky is bourbon, so feel free to pour George or Jack if that’s your jam. Cocktails count, too, as long as you can identify the bourbon used and you haven't drank it on another day in September.
Here comes the tricky part that sometimes trips folks up: What makes or doesn’t make a bourbon expression different enough to be counted as a unique toward the goal of 30 different bourbons?
- Proof: Evan Williams Black Label and Evan Williams Green Label are considered the same Bourbon. In theory, Evan Williams White Label would be different because of the stringent rules that apply to Bonded whiskeys.
- Mash bills within a Brand: Four Roses has ten distinctly different recipes. Each one would be considered a different Bourbon. Moreover, their Small Batch is a blend of those recipes, and as such, that would count as well. So would the limited editions.
- MGP/Dickel/Barton: Two years ago, I had to clarify this because many NPDs source from MGP. Dickel and Barton are heavy-hitters in this as well. There is so much variety with what producers do with sourced distillate that different sourced brands count as different bourbons.
- Blanton’s (and other Single Barrel Bourbons): Different letters on the horsey stoppers are not different Bourbons, sorry. But, if you find different barrels of Blanton’s, you can make it your whole month if you’d like. Don’t forget to ask every store clerk if they have Blanton’s in stock. They love that.
For each day of September, post your Bourbon of the Day on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter with the hashtags #30DaysofBourbon and #BourbonHeritageMonth and make sure to tag @BourbonBanter and any of us you’d like to. Some folks like me post a picture of the bottle. Others post their updated calendar. Either way is fine. As a bonus, Pops will be selecting some folks at random who post online to win some pretty cool bourbon-themed prizes.
We at Bourbon & Banter like to be good stewards and believe in bourbon karma. For the last five years, I’ve been asking people to donate $30.00 (or more) to any charity of their choosing. Be sure to give your charity a shout-out when you post! Awareness is so important to many charities, so don’t just wait until the end, tag them daily.
If you’re concerned that you can’t take part in the challenge because you don’t personally own 30 bourbons, you can plan for that. Bourbon is meant to be shared between friends anyway, so set something up in advance. Visit a good whiskey bar. Lord knows they’ve been hurting hard since the pandemic started. Grab some shooters from your local liquor store: they’re easy on the wallet.
There are always the naysayers who dismiss this as not a real challenge. You should know that history proves otherwise. I have a lot of friends who join me each year and life happens. You need to be aware of things in the month that might be distracting, particularly events that involve a special Bourbon. People get sick, or they go on trips. Invariably people drop out. The key is to remember this is supposed to be fun and not overly stressful. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Life goes on and there’s always next year.
And, fun is the name of the game. Participants tend to comment on how surprisingly difficult it was and how much they enjoyed it. It is also nice to spread some much-needed joy to a charitable cause.
Will you join us and help spread the Bourbon Gospel?