Getting ready to taste bourbon at Rooster’s Southern Kitchen.

The First Friday or every month Rooster’s Southern Kitchen in Kill Devil Hills has been holding a bourbon tasting—but it’s a bourbon tasting for a cause. The tastings are $25 and restaurant owners Sue and John Woolard donate 100% of the fees back to the local nonprofit who sponsors the event. They also give 10% of the food proceeds for the day back to the nonprofit.

It makes for a fun evening for a good cause.

This Friday, February 3, the Dare Education Foundation was in the spotlight. The DEF supports local teachers with affordable housing apartments and grants for continuing education among other things.

It was appropriate that an education foundation was on hand, because the evening was certainly educational.

As an example: contrary to popular belief, not all bourbon comes from Kentucky. Bourbon is defined as a straight whiskey distilled from a mash having at least 51 percent corn.

Bourbon is always aged in charred barrels. That’s what gives it it’s color and flavor. The reason the barrels were originally charred, though, had nothing to do with flavor. Wooden barrels were the original recycled shipping containers and the best way to clean the barrel out was to char the insides.

The bourbons that were sampled were from small, artisan distilleries, although for the most part they can be found in liquor stores. The difference in taste among them was astonishing. Here’s a small sampling.

FEW Bourbon-Chicago

Lighter bodied than the others. Very smooth with a slightly sweet finish.

Filibuster Bourbon-Washington, DC

A two cask bourbon. The blender selects two casks to blend the whiskey to make each batch creating a slightly different flavor every time. We sampled Batch 9.

Very full-bodied and powerful. Lingering finish almost like a wine.

Virgil Kaine Rye Whiskey Charleston, SC

This was thrown in as sort of a ringer. Lighter bodied and slightly sweeter than bourbons. Some people loved it, some felt it wasn’t quite as complex as the bourbons.