A friend and I are planning to spend a few days on the bourbon trail in Kentucky sometime soon. But weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re having trouble getting our schedules to mesh. From my wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perspective this is all a bunch of silliness but then she doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like distilled spirits and she married me so already I know that her judgment is questionable at best.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why does he keep trying to get you to go to Kentucky to drink booze?Ã¢â‚¬Â she asked me the other day after another planned trip fell through.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, I want to go, too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how you drink that stuff.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Kentucky bourbon trail is the closest thing of that sort to where we live. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s world class. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what Napa valley or Tuscany is for wine drinkers or Belgium is for beer drinkers.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah, but it tastes nasty.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So, the bourbon trail will probably never win her over but last year it hosted a rather important visitor and new convert.
Chinese law used to prohibit the importation of bourbon while allowing Scotch into the country. The problem was about a byproduct of distillation called fusel oil. The law placed a cap on the amount of fusel oil that a product could contain which effectively banned bourbon.
But KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s governor wanted his StateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bourbon to be sold in the huge emerging market that is China. He visited a couple of times and tried to convince officials to change the law.
He might never have succeeded but for a tour of some Kentucky distilleries by a Chinese government official. The tour convinced the official and he, in turn, convinced the government that bourbon was safe and could be improved for importation. The law was changed last year and bourbon seems poised to make some big gains over there.