|A cup of beer is placed on the table, overlooking Chicago skyline. / Courtesy of Brand USA|
By Jun Ji-hye
The so-called "drinking at home" trend has been on the rise as an increasing number of people tend to avoid crowded places amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
As many people want to enjoy drinking at home to avoid potential infections, the country's major supermarkets including E-mart and Lotte Mart, as well as convenience stores, have seen their liquor sales grow year-on-year in recent months.
Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, introduced signature U.S. liquors that are sold in Korea, to offer drinkers wider selections and allow them to vicariously travel to America in a time when they have been unable to travel overseas due to the pandemic.
Whiskey that is produced in the Bourbon region of Northeast Kentucky carries the same name.
With the sweetness coming from using corn as its main ingredient, Bourbon also has vanilla flavors unlike other whiskeys, as it is aged in new oak barrels charred inside every year.
It is said that the number of aged barrels in Kentucky outnumbers the number of residents in the state, making it the state's signature liquor.
|Kentucky whiskey barrels / Courtesy of Brand USA|
World-famous bourbon brands from Kentucky that can be readily bought in Korea include Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and Woodford Reserve.
When traveling in Kentucky, people can enjoy the Kentucky Bourbon Trail where they can visit these distilleries and taste various types of whiskeys.
Specifically, September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, so tourists can enjoy an authentic Bourbon experience at the Bourbon Festival held in Bardstown, known as "the Bourbon capital of the world."
In addition, travelers can enjoy the state's vast natural beauty as it boasts the Mammoth Cave National Park, the longest known cave system in the world, as well as Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, two of the largest man-made lakes in the country.
On another note, Virginia, which Kentucky used to be a part of before the state split in 1792, is the birthplace of American Spirits.
The first batch of whiskey was distilled in Virginia in 1620, and the state celebrates Virginia Spirits Month every September.
Most visitors think of California as the country's top wine-producing region, as the state accounts for approximately 80 percent of total U.S. wine production in 2019, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
However, other states such as Washington, Oregon and Virginia also produce wines of excellent quality.
In particular, the wine industry in Washington has grown rapidly recently, making it the second largest wine producer in the U.S. after California.
|Vineyard in Washington State / Courtesy of Brand USA|
The state is located at a similar latitude as the prestigious French wine-producing region of Bordeaux, allowing the state to have optimal geographic conditions for grape cultivation.
The quality of wines from Columbia Valley in Washington is known to be on par with that of Napa Valley in California, and wines from Chateau Ste.
Michelle, a signature winery in the state, boasts outstanding quality as it has been selected in the 100 Wines of the Year by the renowned wine magazine, Wine Spectator, various times.
Meanwhile, Seattle, the largest city in the Northwest U.S., is located in this state.
Seattle is known as the "Pacific gateway to the United States" as it is located at the shortest distance from Asia.
In the city, travelers can visit the Space Needle, a 185.5-meter-high legacy of the 1962 World's Fair, and Pike Place Market, the oldest farmer's market in the U.S.
The original storefront of the first Starbucks is also located adjacent to the market, making it convenient to visit.
Signature U.S. beer brands people can find in Korea include Budweiser from Missouri, Goose Island and Coors from Illinois, Kona Brewing from Hawaii and Samuel Adams from Massachusetts.
Of these, Goose Island has received continued attention from Korean consumers after becoming the fastest brand in the craft beer industry to be sold in all five major Korean convenience store chains.
Goose Island is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and is known to be former U.S. President Barak Obama's favorite beer.
Molson Coors Beverage Company, a global brewer that produces various beers including the low calorie beer Miller Lite and Blue Moon with its fresh orange flavor, is also headquartered in the city, inspiring beer aficionados to flock to Chicago.
Chicago is one of the three largest cities in the U.S., satisfying visitors with a variety of tourist attractions and culinary experiences.
The city is loved by travelers for its iconic tourist spots, including the Millennium Park, The Art Institute of Chicago, known as one of the three major art galleries in the U.S., numerous Michelin starred restaurants, as well as its famous deep-dish pizza.
"In a time when overseas travel is difficult due to COVID-19, we would like to introduce American liquors that can be readily bought in Korea," Emily Kim, strategic account director of Brand USA, said. "Through this, we hope that people can have a second-hand experience on various destinations in the United States and vicariously travel to the birthplaces of these drinks."