The history of bourbon is an ambery fog of competing local legends. Depending on what Kentucky county you’re in, you’ll get a different claim as to who invented it. Despite its murky origins, though, what has always remained clear is that bourbon is a quintessentially American spirit. (In fact, in order to legally be sold as bourbon in the United States, a whiskey must have been made in the country; purists argue bourbon must hail from Kentucky specifically.)
The recently launched bourbon brand Frank August—its name no doubt an allusion to both the “frankness” of the product and its “august,” or impressively high-craft, nature—seeks to look to the future instead of the past. Inspired by the way bourbon’s history is intertwined with America’s, the brand’s founders wanted to make a whiskey that would continue this story, uniting the authenticity of tradition with a sense of modernity (appropriately, the company’s marketing to date has referenced a number of notable American “Franks”: Gehry, Lloyd Wright, Sinatra). Distilled, aged, and bottled in Kentucky in small batches of fewer than 15 barrels, the whiskey is a beautiful auburn, with thick legs that coat the glass.
Taking in the nose of the spirit, you’ll detect classic hints of caramel and vanilla with distinct spicy notes. This aroma hints at the warmth of the whiskey on the palate to come. Sipping it, you’ll experience echoes of these scents on the tongue, made richer and more complex by layers of cinnamon and rye bread. As the flavors roll toward the back of the mouth, a smooth sweetness of brown and malt sugars emerges, tempering the heat of the whiskey. At 100 proof, this bourbon is perfectly balanced, with a medium-long finish that allows ample time to appreciate the clean but complex architecture of its flavors.
Just as the spirit is a feast for the palate, the minimalist, no-frills Frank August bottle is a feast for the eyes. Featuring an elegant, clean-lined shape and a removable label, the bottle is sure to be a conversation piece that stands out on any bar cart. Looking to the future while not forgetting the past, Frank August is a bourbon that brings contemporary flair to the long story of this American spirit. We’re here for this new chapter.
In 2014, author Ursula K. Le Guin gave a short talk about how to live in the anthropocene, arguing that humans should approach nature with more subjectivity and empathy. I
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