2020 has been a hell of a year so far. It seems as though every month offers something worse than the previous one. If you’re ready to turn things around for September, Bourbon & Banter has the solution.
You see, if it is September, it must be Bourbon Heritage Month. That must mean it is time for the sixth 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 2020 (yeah, yeah, what a shocker), is that it will remain unfilled on that list. However, six 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.
I know, I know, you are a serious whiskey aficionado. You imbibe every day. Maybe you even drink Bourbon every day. There’s more to the challenge than that.
The rules are pretty simple. This is a Bourbon challenge. No Ryes, no Scotch, no Irish, Japanese, Canadian, Indian, Australian, or any other type of whiskey. And, despite opinions to the contrary, 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.
Yes, you can drink something other than Bourbon, but those spirits don’t count toward the goal of a different Bourbon each day. Here comes the tricky part that sometimes trips folks up: What makes or doesn’t make a Bourbon different?
- Proof: Usually we consider Evan Williams Black Label and Evan Williams Green Label to be the same bourbon and therefore, would only count as one of your 30 bourbons for the month. However, since COVID has made it a bit more difficult for folks to enjoy a drink at their favorite bar and expand their bottle options, we're going allow it this year. So you can count Evan Williams Black Label and Evan Williams Green Label as two different entries for the challenge. And yes, Evan Williams White Label would also count 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.
- MGP: Last year I had to clarify this because many NPDs source from MGP. There is so much variety with what producers do with MGP distillate that different brands count as different Bourbons. Dickel also provides Bourbon for many producers and the same rules would apply.
- Blanton’s (and other Single Barrel Bourbons): Different letters on the stoppers are not different Bourbons, sorry. However, as it is a Single Barrel Bourbon and every Single Barrel is different, you can choose 30 different Elijah Craig Single Barrels and be set. If you want to enjoy your horsies every day, just make sure you’re sipping a different barrel number.
For each day of September, post on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter your Bourbon of the Day with the hashtags #30DaysofBourbon and #BourbonHeritageMonth and be sure to tag @BourbonBanter and any of us as well. Some folks like me post a picture of the bottle. Others post their updated calendar. Either way is fine.
This year we'll be picking some folks at random that have posted per the above instructions to receive some cool swag items from our distillery and brand partners. So make sure you post each day and include the hashtags and tag @BourbonBanter.
We at Bourbon & Banter like to be good stewards and believe in giving back. In 2020, that’s more important than ever with so many people, especially those in the service industry, out of work. For the last few 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.
If you’re concerned that you can’t take part in the challenge because you don’t personally own 30 Bourbons, don’t let that be a barrier. Pool your friends together and share (Bourbon is meant to be shared between friends anyway). Visit a good whiskey bar. Support your neighborhood liquor store. Do what you can, but remember to social distance.
Finally, for those that would dismiss this as not a real challenge, history begs to differ. I have a lot of friends who join me every 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.
And, fun is the name of the game. Participants tend to comment on how surprisingly difficult it was and how much fun they had. It is also nice to spread some joy to a charitable cause.
Will you join us and help spread the Bourbon Gospel? Cheers!