Thursday, June 26, 2008

Intro to Liquor: Bourbon

In a previous post, I ran into a bartender that didn't know how to differentiate Bourbon from other Whiskeys. This is a terrible situation. However, it is one that is easily remedied. Here's the down low on Bourbon Whiskey.

Bourbon Whiskey has been classified as a "Distinctive Product of the United States". As such, there are requirements placed on the production of Bourbon, by Congressional Mandate.

These requirements are:
  • It must be made from a grain mixture of at least 51% corn.
  • It must be no stronger than 160 proof (80% ABV).
  • Nothing other than water may be added to the mixture.
  • It must be aged in new, charred American Oak barrels.
  • Bourbon aged for less than 4 years in must have the duration of aging displayed on the label.
  • Whiskey that meets the above requirements, and has been aged for at least 2 years, may be labeled Straight Bourbon.
Most Bourbon qualifies as Straight Bourbon even though they might choose not to display it on the label. Most Bourbon brands usually up their mix to closer to 70% corn, to make a flavor more distinct from other types of whiskey.

First distilled in the Allegheny Mountains in 1785, in a large county named for a prominent French family called the Bourbons, all whiskey originating from this region had the name of the county stenciled on the casks. The majority of the liquors were corn based whiskeys.

All modern Bourbon is made through the Sour Mash process, originating from the Woodford Reserve Distillery. Sour Mash uses some of the fermented mash from the last run to create a proper Ph balance, and limit growth of bacteria.

The majority of Bourbon is now made in Kentucky, with a few brands operating in other states. Some of the more famous brands include Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Four Roses, and Makers Mark.

Bourbon is either served Neat or on the Rocks. Usually in an old fashioned glass. When used as part of a mixed drink, it can create drinks such as the Mint Julep, the Down Low, the Scrap Wrench, or the Three Wisemen.

1 comment:

TOPolk said...

Mmm. Bourbon Whiskey.

I've shook Jim Beam's hand more times than I care to remember. Or am able to remember for that matter.