Bourbon and Politics: Kentucky Senator’s Thoughts on Drinking Bourbon

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February 3, 2013 by Bourbon Empire

This is a single-issue blog that only cares about where its readers stand on the bourbon question. Are you for bourbon? Then I look forward to many fireside chats where we discuss the matter nestled deep into leather chairs sipping our favorite drink. Against bourbon? Then I doubt you’ll be able to figure out the matches you’ll need at your next book burning, fascist. Do you really like bourbon but think you might like rye a little better? It’s a totally natural feeling — we all have it and many of us (including myself) often go both ways. But if you’re really concerned about it, then there are some special summer camps in Kentucky that will help convert you back. We here at The Bourbon Empire, however, embrace any kind of American whiskey drinker.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell weighed in on the matter a few days ago. He’s clearly pro-bourbon, saying he likes it best in a Manhattan. That’s a classic choice. Plus, by choosing a drink that shares its name with one of America’s bluest strongholds, the Senator gets some bi-partisan points. Moreover, the Manhattan polls pretty well with both genders. Well done, Senator.

The Senator had lots of other choices, but none would probably have worked as well as the Manhattan. Preferring an old-fashioned would seem too…old-fashioned. The mint julep needs a lot of ice and would seem too fussy and aristocratic. Going with the sazerac would ignite old tensions about whether bourbon or rye should be used in a proper version of the drink. Plus, choosing a sazerac could upset the sensibilities of people who don’t like black licorice or anise notes, and those people have a very powerful network in Washington, DC. You don’t cross them.

We applaud the Senator’s choice, but also feel obliged to point out an error from his interview. McConnell noted that “It’s only supposed to be called bourbon if it’s made in Kentucky.” That’s a common misconception. Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, although the vast majority of it is made in Kentucky. That decision was made in a 1964 Congressional Resolution declaring bourbon a unique product of the U.S., not just Kentucky. This link to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association explains more.

 

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