The term "barrels of fun" just took on a whole new meaning.

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month and we're ready to raise a glass, so we caught up with Clark Trim of Colonial Wines & Spirits to brush up on all things bourbon. 

Whether you’re a bourbon novice or want to expand your palate, here are five things you should know, straight from the experts.

1. Do a little homework. If your experience with bourbon is limited to an occasional old fashioned, a bit of research is in order. Think about cocktails, spirits or flavors you already like. Is your flavor profile sweet? Look into a lighter, lower proof bourbon. Like your cocktails savory? Seek out and sample bold, spicy bourbon. 

2. Don’t go by price alone. It’s true that many higher proof, older bourbons are expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find quality at lower prices. If there’s a bourbon you’ve tried and liked that’s beyond your budget, look for the same distillery’s other bourbons. When you shop, let the store staff help you. Describe what you’re looking for and pick something that balances price, quality and your favorite flavor.

3. Visit your local store. Some individual spirits stores buy a barrel of bourbon, having their staff sample and choose from several varieties. The resulting store selections are high-quality, unique and insanely limited — when the few hundred bottles are gone, there is literally no more anywhere in the world — and usually carry a reasonable price tag. 

4. Visit your local distillery. If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of a bourbon distillery, schedule a tour. (Reminder: Distilleries don’t have to be in Kentucky to produce bourbon.) It’s a great way to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of bourbon being produced. It’s also a great way to get samples of types you may be unfamiliar with — and, again, you’ll be shopping local.

5. Host a bourbon tasting. Have some friends over for an evening of bourbon fun by hosting your very own sampling party. It’s sure to be a popular event and a terrific way to accumulate more bourbon knowledge. 

Pro tip: Colonial already did the party planning for you.

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