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Updated: Sep 12, 2023

It’s no surprise that Bourbon Heritage Month is one of our favorite times of the year! Each September, enthusiasts everywhere come together to celebrate the culture, history, and all things bourbon. Pour yourself a glass and enoy the rich history of this whiskey!

Bourbon Heritage Month 101

Despite bourbon being one of the oldest spirits still enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, many are still unfamiliar with a few key facts about bourbon. For example, what is the difference between bourbon and whiskey? Does it need to be made in Kentucky to be considered bourbon?

Here a few bourbon facts …including a few from our own Union Horse spirits.

  • All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.

  • There is an old saying that bourbon must be made in Kentucky, however, this is a common misconception. “Kentucky Bourbon” is only produced in the state, but bourbon in fact can be made in any of the 50 American states. Once the overall standards for bourbon are met then it's bourbon.

  • Speaking of overall standards, by law, bourbon must be produced in the USA, made of a grain mix of at least 51% corn, distilled at less than 160 proof (80% ABV), aged for a period of time in new, charred white oak barrels and be free of any additives, with the exception of water to reduce proof where necessary.

  • In 1964, an act of Congress declared bourbon as “America’s Native Spirit” and the country’s official distilled spirit. And on August 2, 2007, the US Senate declared September 2007 as "National Bourbon Heritage Month."

  • At Union Horse, exceptional grains are sourced from Midwest farms, carefully selected, milled in-house, fermented, distilled, and aged to create our whiskie specifically that Reserve Bourbon that you all love so much.

  • Our whiskies are tested for complexity and full flavor before moving into the bottling stage. All bottling and labeling is done in-house and Patrick Garcia, our Master Distiller/Co-founder, hand signs and numbers each and every bottle.

  • And finally… the best way to enjoy bourbon? There is no perfect way, just enjoy it! Cheers.

While Bourbon Heritage Month does provide a reason to celebrate… Whether you are a bourbon enthusiast or a casual bourbon drinker, we know it can be enjoyed however, whenever, or wherever you want. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate this month and beyond…

  • Mixing up a cocktail at home or for a small group of friends on the patio is an excellent way to toast the month. Click here for some of our favorites.

  • Host a bourbon tasting for your fellow bourbon fanatics and drop some knowledge on them with the help of our handy bourbon facts!

  • Set up a distillery tour with us. All private tours are led by a Union Horse Brand Ambassador along with cocktails and flight preparation by our in-house bartender. $17 per person and must be purchased in advance by contacting or calling 913-492-3275.

  • Attend our monthly Union Horse Social. This month you can join us on September 14th from 5-10 PM. Follow us on our IG/FB/Website for more details!

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Rachelle Henderson is one of Union Horse Distilling Company's Territory Managers. This month, Rachelle shares with us about her background, the impact of women & whiskey, and what it means to be a part of Union Horse history.

Damian Garcia

Q: Tell us about yourself and your background. When did you first get involved in the industry?

Rachelle: It was an unexpected happenstance that drew me into the world of whiskey. I have a BA in Human Services, but decided to stay at home with my kids after college. Once my youngest entered Kindergarten in 2016, I needed a part-time job while I searched for a career in my degree. Someone suggested I apply as a part-time tour guide at a local distillery. Surprisingly to myself, I loved everything about it. That’s where I found my passion for learning the history and process of whiskey, and talking spirits with customers and like-minded people.

I found a career that I truly enjoyed doing. I eventually moved on to the distributor side of the alcohol industry, but my true passion was the supplier side, specifically whiskey. I was ecstatic to come on board with Union Horse in 2022 which produced my favorite rye whiskey in the market. I now proudly pour Union Horse as my whiskey of choice but also my career.

Q: Since you started working in whiskey (and the wider drinks industry), what have you seen change in relation to women and diversity in the industry?

Rachelle: I’ve seen so many more women become actively involved in the whiskey community who were once apprehensive because it was thought as a “man’s drink of choice”. More women are open to sampling and growing their palate and knowledge of this spirit category. We have a fantastic whiskey club in Kansas City that has an active women’s group. It’s a wonderful mix of women that love whiskey or simply enjoy the comradery of the community of women it attracts. While it still is a mostly male dominated industry with its challenges, I do find more acceptance as a woman than I did when I first began in the industry. There’s still a ways to go but I’m proud to be a part of paving that way for women.

Q: What does your day-to-day look like?

Rachelle: I usually start my day in the office reading and sending emails, checking in with my director/co-owner, and replenishing sale sheets and sample bottles. Then I head out into the market. As a Territory Manager, I manage predominately Missouri retail liquor stores, bars and restaurants. I also make sales calls to potential new clients and existing accounts. Sales calls include sampling our portfolio of whiskeys, collaborating and creating cocktails for menus, checking inventory, schedule tastings and events, and providing brand support through coasters, bar mats, barrels for aging cocktails, and staff education.

Q: What’s your favorite way to enjoy whiskey?

Rachelle: My favorite way to enjoy whiskey is the Union Horse Barrel Strength Rye Old Fashioned. I love the bold spice flavors of the rye at a higher proof, mixed with the simplest ingredients that are meant to compliment the flavor of the whiskey. Cheers!

Wanna learn more about Rachelle? Click here to listen to a recent podcast with Women & Whiskey. Want to learn more about the Union Horse process? Distillery tours are available in both a public and private setting. Tours are $17 per person, and must be purchased in advance by contacting or calling 913-492-3275.

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Making your whiskey is our creative journey. In the steamy, vast warehouse at Union Horse Distilling Co, the true heroes work day-in and day-out to create their own legacy (both distillers and whiskey barrels alike). From milling the finest quality, Midwest grains to the barreling and bottling, everything is done in house and by hand. For our team it’s a sign of respect – for the traditions of our industry, for the family and ultimately for you. Making distinctive and delicious whiskey is our main priority, that’s why we take pride in our small batch process and why we believe “Big Things Come in Small Batches”.

It all starts with combining the best locally sourced ingredients. All spirits then are distilled in our 500-gallon, Vendome column, pot still (lovingly known as “Chester Copperpot”) During all distillations, testing is done to ensure the highest standards are being met for continual purity every step of the way.

Before entering the barrel, the distilled spirit will be proofed down to an ABV of 55% to pull out more complex flavors (caramel, butterscotch, vanilla) as our whiskey ages. Our oak barrels not only impart great flavor to our whiskies but are also the embodiment of our attention to detail, craftsmanship, and commitment. Each barrel is hand-crafted and toasted by ISC Barrels with a medium char level for a more distinctive flavor profile. Once they're filled, they go to our sprawling rickhouse in the heart of the Midwest.

UHD outside

Our barrel house is non-climate controlled which helps in the aging of our whiskeys. The more Midwest's seasonal temperature changes that the barrels are exposed to crucial to giving our whiskey the ideal balance of flavor as it matures. Each barrel will get tested at around the 2.5-year mark but won’t be emptied until it hits a maturity level of around 5+ years for the 53-gallon casks.

Once the barrels are ready, the whiskey blending can begin. Whiskey blending is an art. To attain complexity with each new batch, around 10-15 barrels are sampled individually at barrel proof by our distilling team and managers. Throughout this sampling process our team is taking notes on the barrels that display the most diverse and distinctive flavor profiles, they will then choose which ones will make the cut to blend for a new batch, around 5-6 barrels.⁠

Our team will then take small samples of these 5-6 barrels and blend them together, proof them down to the desired brand’s ABV and test again to make sure the end result will meet the highest of standards before the new batch is created.⁠

Once a new batch is ready, we will begin bottling, labeling, and prepping for your hands. Since their first release in 2013, every bottle of our handcrafted, aged whiskies is signed and numbered by our Master Distiller & Co-Founder Patrick Garcia.

From start to finish, it’s all in the details. We're living, breathing proof that tenacity outplays experience. To anyone who enjoys a full-flavored, quality-tasting experience in the spirits they choose, we invite you to taste the Union Horse difference.

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