At the Kentucky Derby this weekend, there are only two certainties: thoroughbreds will run for the roses, and thousands standing on two feet will sip on bourbon smashed with mint. Jockeys and juleps are intrinsically linked in the culture of Churchill Downs. The classic Mint Julep has been the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby for more than a century, and each year, the demand calls for 1,000 pounds of fresh mint for muddling.
There’s one word that lured famed whiskey legend and inaugural member of the Whiskey Hall of Fame, Lincoln Henderson, away from a deserved season of rest and back into the work world: bourbon. “I came out of retirement to create the world’s finest bourbon on my own terms and to just enjoy the art of making whiskey. Now, I have complete creative freedom to create bourbon my own way so I make decisions based on the specific taste profile I want to achieve,” he says.
Drinkers who love single-malt Scotch whisky, but who also prefer to support an American product like bourbon, will soon get to have the best of both worlds. And in the meantime, we can enjoy one of the most unique spirits on the market.
In less than 20 years, historic, scenic, artsy, outdoorsy Asheville, North Carolina, has added another adjective to its tagline: sudsy. This town of fewer than 85,000 boasts an impressive 11 breweries, or one brewery for every 7,700 citizens. Compare that to Vermont, which the Brewers Association ranks first among the states in capita per brewery at 26,073.
Five years ago, Brooks Reitz was a gin man living in the heart of bourbon country. Managing a restaurant in Kentucky with an impressive bar, cocktail culture began to percolate right under his nose. As carefully crafted, small-batch gins trickled into the market, he noticed that no mixers were coming with them.