Biden wins by nose as Obama and Romney enter home straight
Rob Hutchins, a “bourbon ambassador” for Heaven Hill distillers, told me bourbon is a product of the American melting pot: “Irish and Scottish immigrants made their whiskey from barley; the Germans made theirs from rye. We added corn and use all three in bourbon.”
Heaven Hill has sold close to 50,000 cases of partisan bourbon. Blue state labels bear the Democratic donkey; red state bourbon, an elephant. Hutchins watches sales instead of opinion polls. For the moment, they’re tied. The television comic Stephen Colbert has a similar gig, counting Obama and Romney mugs sold by 7-Eleven convenience stores.
An earlier economic crisis explains how Irish whiskey came to be distilled in Kentucky barrels. In 1936, Hutchins recounts, the state passed a law requiring that bourbon be aged only in new, charred oak barrels.
“It created a lot of jobs, in timber and for coopers,” he says. “When Germany occupied France a few years later, Ireland and Scotland lost their supply of barrels. The second World War opened up the European market for us.” A used bourbon barrel goes for about $70.
The Keeneland racetrack in Lexington was built against the odds, also in the Great Depression year of 1936. Thoroughbreds were taken to New York for sale then. But Keeneland set up its own auctions due to travel restrictions during the war. The association sold 8,500 horses totalling $465 million last year.
“A thoroughbred needs stamina, speed and the ability to run a long distance,” says Bill Thomason, Keeneland’s president. Like a politician.
They held a different kind of Kentucky Derby in stately Danville, between the old sire Joe Biden and the yearling Paul Ryan. It’s been 108 years since the US has seen a wider age gap between two “veep” candidates.
There was advance speculation that Ryan might be “on the muscle” – what happens to nervous horses who lather up and waste energy in the paddock. But both horses . . . er, men . . . were sure-footed. Most commentators thought Biden won by a nose, though he lost points for showing his equine grin a few times too often.
We’re nearing the home stretch now, with two more presidential debates to go.
“You don’t know who the winner is until the race is run,” cautions Walt Robertson, a lifelong auctioneer at Keeneland. One thing is certain: after November 6th, one presidential candidate will be put out to pasture.