Jack Daniels new honey whiskey has opened many doors for neighboring Kentucky distillers to create specialty products. Heavenly Hill has introduced a "red state" and "blue state" beverage, with unique labels for each. The hooch is the same, though.
Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, Ky., meanwhile, has also been working on its marketing mix. Just in time for the primary season, it will release special Red State and Blue State bottles of 80-proof straight bourbon.
Red State is Republican red, featuring the traditional elephant. Blue State is Democratic blue, with the donkey mascot. Heaven Hill said it would track retail sales by label to try to infer political preferences among its bourbon drinkers. (There will be no difference between the two whiskies.)
But bourbon isn’t just for red and blue states. Distillers are increasing production and creating vast supply chains to quench the thirst of whiskey lovers worldwide.
But as the holiday imbibing season approached, five bartenders entered a “shake off” this month at the Kentucky Derby Museum, to see who could work the most magic with bourbon, a singularly American spirit that has turned out to be a singularly American success story. The winner was Karla Ramsey, and here is her Manhattan recipe:
2 ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1 ounce each of apple brandy and sweet vermouth
2 splashes bitters
1 red apple slice and 1 cinnamon stick, for garnish
Shake the liquid with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with the apple slice and the cinnamon stick. Light the cinnamon on fire!
Dennis Withey of Louisville used to be a big Scotch drinker, but not any more. On Tuesday night, Mr. Withey and a drinking buddy, Bob Engle, were enjoying a $3 shot of Very Old Barton, chased by beer at the Silver Dollar, a new restaurant and bar in Louisville. By 8 p.m., every seat at the 42-foot bar, in a renovated 1890s firehouse, was taken, and Kentucky-made whiskey was flowing freely.
The Barton “was nice and smooth,” said Mr. Withey, whose allegiance has switched to Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. With over 50 choices at the Silver Dollar, he added, “I’ll be back.”