By Rob Allanson

On the road to Louisville

Mid terms,football games and musicians, Rob Allanson takes a voyage of discovery in to bourbon country
I recently took my first trip out to Kentucky.Bourbon is having such a good run with sales rocketing and the industry straining to keep up with increased demand.My visit coincided with several big events, and as a writer it is always interesting to be in a different country when something major is taking place.Elections are always exciting times. All those juicy stories, heated debates, the final vote counting cliff hangers and the feeling of democracy in action.So to be in the United States during the mid term elections was pretty thrilling, especially with there being so much at stake for the current administration.Now I thought we Brits had some archaic election laws – a near total ban on political reporting on election day for instance – but I came across a great US regulation.No alcohol until the polls close?! I almost did a double take when I was told this.In the United Kingdom alcoholic intake increases during election time, especially amongst journalists.Well you would have needed a drink after the polls closed and the count for the Senate went down to the wire and the political landscape shifted.Another major event, that does not happen elsewhere, was college football.The Louisville Cardinals took on arch rivals the Rutgers. The bars were packed and television sets switched to sports channels.In the UK there is just not the same passion for college sports.Anyway the night ended deflated with the Cardinals losing. Thank goodness I was in the heart of bourbon country and able to sink a few to commiserate with the fans.I had read about Louisville’s reputation for being a mecca for artists, musicians and bourbon, and my first night in town lived up to expectations.Happily ensconced in the Seelbach bar, I ran in to a group of musicians who were part of the touring Broadway show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.One of the great things about being on the road is meeting new people and making friends, and when you get musicians together you can expect a great night.The conversation ranged from politics to, of course, appreciating good bourbon. It was such a pleasure to have their company and spread a little of the whiskey gospel.One of the main reasons for being in Louisville was to hand out our American Icons of Whisky awards.A small but exclusive gathering, including several master distillers, were present leaving me in a very tricky situation when ordering a whiskey from the bar, and it’s not like I can really order a vodka, it’s just not done.During my visits to various distilleries and producers I was bowled over to experience the array of tastes bourbon can show, from the fiery new make spirit to a very floral Elijah Craig 18 year old.If you are one of these people who dismisses bourbon as something you don’t like, shop around, experiment, there is honestly a bottle out there which will appeal.People often say that they don’t like whisky.It’s not that they don’t like it, just they have not found the brand for them.So with more exciting bourbon reaching the market place it is definitely time to experiment a bit and seek out a new friend.