Now you might have heard that September is National Bourbon Heritage Month. After all, it is a time when everyone seems to be raising a glass to that amber coloured liquid distilled from at least 51% corn. But realistically it’s actually not that simple, because, on one hand, it is Bourbon heritage month but on the other, it’s not national bourbon heritage Month. Let me explain …
You see back in September 1991, the US State of Kentucky decided that it wasn’t enough that they produced more Bourbon than anywhere else, they were going to have a festival to celebrate the fact. Thus began the Kentucky Bourbon Festival and the tradition of celebrating all things Bourbon in September.
Now that was all good and fine but then in September 2007, the US Senate decided that they wanted everyone, not just those in Kentucky or at the festival to acknowledge the history and ingenuity of the Bourbon industry.
The Senate, therefore, passed a Simple Resolution that named “September 2007” National Bourbon Heritage Month and that’s really where all the confusion actually started.
Importantly, the resolution recognised bourbon as “America’s Native Spirit” and reinforced the importance of its heritage, tradition and its place in the history of the United States, making particular note of the contributions of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
So you’d imagine that everything was fine, that all the boxes had been ticked and everything was in place to make September that special month that was all about Bourbon heritage. But if you know your senate rules, you may have picked up on the problem.
You see, when the resolution was passed, it was done so not as a joint resolution, that requires the approval of both chambers in identical form and the president’s signature to become law, but instead a simple resolution. A simple resolution is passed by only one house, it’s not presented to the President, and does not have the force of law.
But more specifically for Bourbon month, a simple resolution only lasts for the time stipulated and for it to continue, would need to be renewed.
This means that while in 2007 it was indeed National Bourbon Heritage Month, the lack of renewal of the resolution means that no following years can actually claim the title.
Meanwhile back in Kentucky, there is not a governor elected that does not like to curry favour with his state by proclaiming September to be Kentucky Bourbon Heritage Month. So, yes, September is all about Bourbon Heritage, it’s just not quite as national as you might have thought.