The Spirit of America: Bourbon

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The quintessential American whiskey is bourbon. Whiskeys are made all around the world, but Bourbon is ours. What makes this delicious, sweet, smoky spirt unique? First and foremost, bourbon must be made in the United States. They can’t make it in Canada, can’t make it in Japan, Scotland or Ireland. It’s all ours. The home of bourbon is Kentucky, and although bourbon is made in several different states these days, the vast majority (95%) is still produced in the bluegrass state.shutterstock_315690578

The law requires a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey to have a corn content of at least 51%. Further components of the mash bill are rye and malted barley, which each make up between 10% and 15%. Bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years in a brand new charred oak barrel. The barrel is a major factor in the taste. The char on the inside allows greater interaction between the whiskey and the wood. Not only does this give it that nice smoky flavor, but it allows the whiskey to age faster. The new barrel ensures that there are no lingering flavors of another whiskey to corrupt the bourbon.

Bourbon must be bottled at 80 proof or greater. It must not be distilled greater than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume,) and no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume) when barreled for aging.

There are a great number of cocktails that can be crafted with bourbon, but today, we are going to focus on bourbons that can stand alone. Why? The only thing that I ever mix bourbon with is a couple of ice cubes, so I would not be the best one to inform you on cocktails. Now, if you like your whiskey neat, or on the rocks I’m your guy. Today, I’ve chosen four bourbons that I greatly enjoy, but there are plenty more to offer if you stop by your local beverage store.shutterstock_323162285

Widow Jane

Believe it or not this 8- year Bourbon is from Brooklyn, New York, well kind of. The Whiskey is distilled in Kentucky then shipped to Brooklyn where it is cut with artisan spring water and aged. This is not a beginners Bourbon. It’s big and smoky, with a nutty sweetness and a finish that lingers on. The flavor profile has notes of fruit and wood, and a leather earthiness that dances back and forth on the palate. $79.99/ bottle and well worth it.

Wathen’s

A single barrel Bourbon I discovered about eight years ago. I tried it at a tasting and had to put it on our shelves so I could buy it (one of the perks to being in the business). The mash bill is 70% corn, 10% rye, and 13% malted barley. They don’t put an age statement on the bottle, but I would bet that it is over 6 years. The whiskey starts off with light smoke and a fruity taste, followed with a rich nutty flavor and a smooth gentle finish. $42.99/bottle


J.R. Revelry

This bourbon is made in Nashville, but the owner lives right here in the shutterstock_248240614Atlanta area. Owner, Rick Tapia is planning to open a distillery here in Georgia. This is a young bourbon, but still very enjoyable. The upfront taste is light fruit and caramel, with a nice smoky transition to a nutty, light spice finish. Not only do I like this one on the rocks, but it has a lot of promise as a cocktail bourbon.

$29.99/bottle

Bib & Tucker

A 6-year-old Bourbon that is 70% corn, 26% rye, and 4% malted barley. This bourbon is aged in No.1 charred American white oak barrels for a minimum of six years (with an actual average age of 7.5 years.) Big and smoky, with some toffee and caramel notes that transition to a pleasant spicy flavor from the rye, with subtle hints of vanilla popping through on the finish. $54.99/bottle

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