Those of you who know me know that one of my favorite bourbon spots in town is Haymarket Whiskey Bar. Proprietor Matthew Landan really knows his stuff and has selected quite the collection of bourbons and craft beers. But did you know he also teaches bourbon? The days and times may vary depending on what’s going on in the surrounding area, but these classes are usually Monday through Thursday around 5 p.m. by appointment.
I had the opportunity to sit in on one of his classes recently, and it was really astonishing to watch him go on and on without notes or anything. The class he taught on that particular night had more to do with bourbon history as it pertains to Louisville than actual bourbon tasting. It was fascinating to hear all the little bits of Louisville and bourbon history woven together on a timeline.
Landan covered the history of spirits in America, including the need Americans had to develop whiskey during the revolution because they were boycotting molasses (read-->rum) and tea due to taxation. In addition to being a great way to preserve your harvest, whiskey also supported your local farmer.
He also went into the formation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and how that shaped the transition from rye to corn whiskey. Louisville became an obvious hub for bourbon not only because of the limestone water, but because it was a necessary trade stop. Kentucky became known as a producer of the best bourbon around.
After the in-depth history lesson, Landan went on to explain what makes bourbon as opposed to corn whiskey or even rye, as well as which recipes were unique to certain time periods and geographical locations. He explained the differences between straight, bottled in bond, and other label explanations.
The evening was relaxing, with the lights dimmed and the steady hum of refrigeration units in the background. As I sat sipping my JTS Brown on the rocks I began putting the pieces of bourbon history together in a new way. I connected bits of information in a totally new way that made me appreciate my Kentucky and Louisville heritage that much more.
Call (502) 442-0523 to schedule a class or for more information. Classes are $40 per person, but there are also Groupons or Living Social deals for less. Just remember when you buy your Groupon to buy one for each member of your party.
Photos Courtesy of Haymarket Whiskey Bar and Maggie Kimberl