Find it difficult to recognise a bourbon whisky? here we show you the simple ways to accomplish that.
Have you ever thought that we try and enjoy food and drinks without knowing where they come from?
For example, Whoever thought that a plant with red seeds could produce a drink as comforting as coffee? Or, that by opening a fruit and taking out its seeds, drying and grinding them, something as exquisite as chocolate would be obtained?
There are innumerable pleasures that delight us even if we do not know their origin. As we love to investigate, investigate and learn, today we will take a tour of the history, flavour, production and most representative brands of the flagship liquor of the United States: bourbon.
So let’s start by understanding what bourbon is through a very simple concept:
Although all bourbons are whiskeys (yes, with an “e”), not all whiskeys are bourbons.
I’ll explain. Although there are many who include whiskey, whiskey and bourbon in the same category, they are not the same.
Let’s look at 5 key points:
1. Its origin
The first signs of whiskey date back to the 5th and 6th centuries in Ireland, where it was first made. The Scots, meanwhile, adopted the essence of its manufacture and called it “whisky”. Later, in the 18th century, with the arrival in the United States of Scottish and Irish expatriates who brought their precious stills, American whiskey began to be manufactured, especially in the state of Kentucky.
The earliest known producer was Reverend Elijah Craig, who is said to have opened the first distillery in 1789 in Fayette County, Kentucky.
Other versions claim that the idea of producing it in this area of the country is due to a southern farmer, who figured out how to take advantage of the surplus of the corn crop to create a distillate.
Thus we arrive at the biggest difference between bourbon and Irish whiskey and Scotch whiskey.
2. Your raw material
While all three beverages share the same key phases: fermentation, distillation, and ageing, barley is used first in the Irish and Scottish processes, while corn is used in the American process.
At least 51% must be corn, without exceeding 80%. The remaining percentage is comprised of wheat, barley, and rye, among others.
As a curious fact, although corn whiskey was born in Fayette, it was named after nearby Bourbon County, since large-scale production began there. The interesting thing is that both counties are linked to the Marquis de Lafayette: Gilbert du Motier, (1757-1834), a French aristocrat related to the House of Bourbon. This fascinating and admirable character is considered one of the heroes of the war of independence.
3. Its taste
And, speaking of flavour, if there is something that makes bourbon stand out, it is that slight sensation of sweetness with notes of vanilla and caramel, the result of its preparation.
Wheat adds smoothness and added sweetness, while rye adds spicy notes.
4. Your production
Bourbon is distilled from a fermented mixture of grains, mainly corn and cereals such as barley, rye and wheat, which is known as a ” mash bill ” or mixed grain.
The must is distilled to a maximum of 80 degrees of alcohol and then placed in the barrel at 62.5 degrees or even lower.
At this time, barrel ageing begins.
5. His upbringing
By law, bourbon is aged in a new charred American white oak barrel for a minimum of two years, unlike Scotch or Irish whiskey which can be made in both American and French oak barrels, which have housed bourbon, rum, cognac, brandy or sherry.
Although bourbon is closely tied to the Bluegrass region and 95% of the world’s supply comes from Kentucky, it can nonetheless be made anywhere in the United States, as is the case with famous Tennessee bourbon.
In short, for a liquor to be labelled “bourbon,” it must be made in the United States, even though much of the bourbon we consume comes from Kentucky, like the renowned Bulleit Bourbon.