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GRAFTON — The Hakuna Matata Boat Tour has a cruise for everyone and one is coming with a special focus on a particular group — fathers. But any bourbon lover can book a ride on the Father’s Day Bourbon Tasting Sunset Cruise.In case shopping for Dad is still an issue, there are 20 spots still open for the Friday and Saturday specialty Father’s Day Bourbon Cruise, from 6: 30 to 8: 30 p.m. both days. The bourbon-y boat features seven tastings of what some might consider a golden elixir. On Sunday, Father’s Day, there’s also a Father’s Day Brunch Cruise and a Father’s Day one-hour Riverboat Ride.
Bourbon Fun Facts from Grafton Harbor's Hakuna Matata Boat Tour
• All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. By definition, whiskey is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash - grain varieties include wheat, rye, barley and corn - and then aged in wooden barrels. To be bourbon it needs to be produced in America and made from 51% corn.
• Bourbon, by law, must be aged in a brand-new, charred white oak barrel to be called straight bourbon whiskey. After the barrels have been used once, they can no longer be used for bourbon again and many times the barrels then are used for aging Scotch, which is whisky made in Scotland, while bourbon is whiskey made in the U.S.A.
• After making bourbon, the corn and other grain used to make the mash bill get shipped off to farms to be used as cow feed. So, drink your bourbon and feel good about it!
• In 1964, Congress declared bourbon "America's Native Spirit." That means to be called bourbon, it must be made in the U.S., which really means Kentucky, where 95% of the world's bourbon is made.
• There are more barrels of bourbon than people in Kentucky.
• The name bourbon originally derives from the French royalty, the House of Bourbon. In the 1780s, Thomas Jefferson offered farmers 60 acres of prime Kentucky real estate to grow "crops of native origin," and called the area Bourbon County in honor of the French contribution to the American Revolutionary War.
• During World War II, many distilleries were converted to produce penicillin, which also is a product of fermentation that will cure what ails you.
• According to USA Today, Kentucky distillers pay over $23 million state and local barrel taxes. The bourbon tax rate is the highest of all the state's 536 manufacturing industries.
“Whether you enjoy bourbon and are looking to expand your experience, or you’re a novice and haven’t figured out what you truly enjoy, you are sure to find something you love,” said Grafton Harbor co-owner Jan DeSherlia, who operates the business with her husband, Joe DeSherlia, since 2006, and from where they operate the Hakuna Matata day and specialty cruises.
“The bourbon industry adopted new approaches to appeal to women, too,” she said, “broadening their market. The competition in the industry has made the bourbon selection outstanding.”
The industry adopted new types of barrels, finishes and blends that “sparks everyone’s interest.
Bourbon is America’s only native spirit, as declared by Congress in 1964, according to www.worldwhiskeyday.com. The site claims in order to be a bourbon, instead of just plain old whiskey, the mash bill, or mix of grains used to make bourbon, must be made with a minimum of 51% corn, distilled at no more than 160 proof and aged in charred new oak barrels at no more than 125 proof, bottled at no less than 80 proof and contain no additives.
“But new mash bill recipes make for new exciting flavors,” DeSherlia said. “And it’s fun, collecting and finding rare and fine bourbons.”
Hakuna Matata’s bourbon tasting includes Ancient Age, Benchmark, Ezra Brooks 99, Old Bardstown Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Willett Distillery, Minor Case from Limestone Branch Distillery, Brown Sugar Bourbon and Bourbon Cream from Buffalo Trace Distillery.
• Ancient Age, also known as “Baby Blanton’s,” is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon, distilled by Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace Distillery, the oldest distillery site in the U.S., around since 1770. Ancient Age begins with the same mash bill as Blanton’s.
• Benchmark begins with the same mash bill as E.H. Taylor, Eagle Rare, Stagg and Buffalo Trace, all Kentucky bourbons.
• Ezra Brooks 99, from an undisclosed distiller, though it’s most likely from Heaven Hill, in Kentucky, DeSherlia said. Many compare this award-winning bourbon’s taste profile to Blanton’s, but Ezra Brooks 99 is bottled at an elevated 99 proof for an enhanced flavor profile.
• Old Bardstown Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey’s nose is “Fun Dip” candy! Who wouldn’t want to taste that?
• Minor Case whiskey was inspired by Limestone Branch founders Steve and Paul Beam’s great-grandfather, Minor Case Beam, who operated a distillery prior to prohibition. He passed away shortly after repeal.
• Brown Sugar Bourbon blends ultra-smooth bourbon with just the right amount of brown sugar and cinnamon. Another for a sweet tooth.
• Bourbon Cream is handcrafted using Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon, good chilled, on the rocks or poured in a cup of coffee.
Hakuna Matata is built as a 49-passenger vessel that sails the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The all-weather 53-foot boat is U.S. Coast Guard licensed, with seating and cafe tables on both the upper and lower decks.
The first level of the boat is fully enclosed with large windows. The upper deck is a huge open-air patio offering 360-degree views of the river, limestone bluffs, islands and historical points of interest along the way, which lends to nature watching, photography and family photos.
The cruise is made comfortable with restrooms, and features a tiki bar offering a cash bar and light snacks.
The Hakuna Matata cruises run April through November, weather and river conditions permitting.
A variety of scheduled cruising opportunities are offered and the Hakuna Matata also is available to rent for private parties, such as weddings, bachelorette/bachelor, birthday, graduation, retirement and more.
Other specialty cruises in June include Hawaiian Luau One Hour Cruise and Sunset Cruise or Dinner Cruise; July specialty cruises include Fireworks Sunset Cruise, Proud to be an American Sunset Cruise, Caribbean and Reggae Cruise or Dinner Cruise, Hakuna Moscato Sunset Cruise and Rum on the River Sunset Cruise.
Book online at www.graftonharbor.com or call 618-786-7678. Hakuna Matata is located at Grafton Harbor, 215 W. Water St., in Grafton.
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