If it is September, it must be Bourbon Heritage Month. That must mean it is time for the fifth 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 2019, is that it will remain unfilled on that list. However, five 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.
It initially started off with just me. In year two, my fellow contributors at Bourbon & Banter joined in. In year three, it went completely viral as we invited everyone to take part in the challenge. Last year, I added another component to the challenge. I love that whiskey can be used for good in the world and added a call to donate at least $30 to a charity of your choosing at the end of the month.
The rules of the challenge are pretty simple: This is a Bourbon challenge. No Ryes, no Scotch, no Irish, Japanese, Canadian or any other type of whiskey. And, despite opinions to the contrary, I consider Tennessee Whiskey a Bourbon, so feel free to pour George or Jack if that’s your thing. (Editor's Note: Mr. Schwartz's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of his fellow Bourbon & Banter team members.) Cocktails count, too, as long as you identify the Bourbon used.
You can drink something other than Bourbon, but they 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: Old Grand-Dad 114 and Old Grand-Dad 80-proof is considered the same Bourbon. In theory, Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond would be different because of the stringent rules that apply to Bonded whiskeys.
- Mashbills 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: One thing that I’ve never before addressed in the rules is 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 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.
Download and print the #30DaysofBourbon calendar to keep track of your progress. Each day write down your bourbon and share a photo on Twitter/Instagram using #30DaysofBourbon and tag @BourbonBanter.
Download and use our BHM19 logo overlays when sharing your progress online. Each file is a .png file which allows it to be used as an overlay on top of your photo. For those of you that have an iPhone we recommend using the Over app to create your final image with overlays.
Overlay Instructions: Click on one of these links: BHM Logo | B&B Logo. The image will open in a new browser tab/window. Then right-click on the image in the new tab/window and save image to your computer or phone. Please note that the images are shown in black on a white background for illustration purposes only. When downloaded, they will be in white with a transparent background allowing you to overlay them on a photo.
For each day of September, post on social media 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. Also, feel free to give a shout-out to your favorite charity to whom you will donate your $30 (or more).
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.
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 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?