Types of Bourbon Whiskey
Bourbon, like all whiskeys, is subject to passionate obsession, and who you are is what you make of it.
These are the bourbon truths: It must be made from a 51 percent corn malt bill, aged in new charred oak barrels, distilled in the United States, and it must meet certain proof criteria.
What is Bourbon?
Bourbon is most commonly made using a combination of grains (in this case corn, barley, and rye).
In America, bourbon whiskey is governed by regulations pertaining to its mash bill, barreling, additives, and alcohol content.
A traditional nutty and caramelized mash must contain at least 51 percent corn.
The spirit must then be aged in newly charred white oak barrels.
A whiskey created with mahogany colors must also contain an alcohol content of at least 40%, be flavorless, and not contain additives.
Besides Mint Juleps, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, Bourbon Eggnogs, Whiskey Sours, and Libertines, Bourbon is also used in many cocktails.
The first bourbon in the U.S. was distilled in the eighteenth century.
However, many people associate it with Kentucky and the American South.
A large number of distilleries in Bourbon County, Kentucky, use hard water to press their whiskey (sometimes called limestone water).
In fermentation, the minerals in this water bond with the carbohydrates in the alcohol, creating a smooth flavor.
Where does the name “Bourbon” come from?
The name “bourbon” is thought to have originated in Bourbon County, Kentucky, where 95 percent of all bourbon is produced. Bourbon Street, as the legend goes, took its name from the House of Bourbon which was founded in Louisiana in the 13th century.
The origin of Bourbon
The name Bourbon was given to American Whiskey indirectly as part of the young nation’s liberation war against the English crown. Bourbon (French Royal Family 1579-1792) was called after the French won the battle against the English on the border between today’s Indiana and Kentucky in gratitude for their victory.
To begin with, the region where the Whiskey originated was indicated on casks that carried the Bourbon logo.
As Whiskey from Bourbon County soon became well-known for its good quality, the name Bourbon became more common for Whiskey from the entire region.
Throughout the following centuries, Bourbon County was divided and moved several times.
Even today, there are still parts of Kentucky east of Lexington known as Bourbon.
However, the entire county has no distilleries left.
Congress did not pass a resolution clarifying the requirements for American Whiskey to be called Bourbon until 1964.
Diamond Cut Whiskey Glasses
- Set of 2, 10 Oz whiskey glasses
- Dishwasher safe: Preferred top rack
- Extra-net design around for stability
Bourbon Whiskey: A Brief History
Indigenous Americans of the past did not drink fermented plant juices or distill spirits. Fruit was probably the only alcoholic food they consumed.
It was only with the immigrants from Europe that distillation of alcoholic liquids made its way to the New World.
The Scots and the Irish were mainly the first to want their old homes’ whisk(e)y to be enjoyed in their new countries after the English settlers.
Throughout North America’s history, rum has been the dominant spirit since the colonization of Central America and the Caribbean.
At the beginning of the 17th century, wealthy families such as the Roosevelts (two of whose members served as US Presidents) relied heavily on imported molasses for their wealth.
The dominance of rum ended when immigrants arrived in North America from Northern Europe whose favourite food and drink they didn’t want to give up.
From the east coast, immigrants settled North America with Boston, New York (formerly New Amsterdam) and Philadelphia as major immigration destinations.
The soil on which rye and wheat flourished soon became overflowing with grain, so farmers distilled it to make it more durable and easier to transport.
Through this refinement, farmers would be able to generate an additional source of income for a meager existence. The states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia became the first states to establish rural distilleries.
The farmers had to put in a lot of effort until the Whisky-generating process arrived, however.
Agricultural soils did not support the growth of the barley necessary to fermentation and resulted in poor harvests. Native Americans had already cultivated corn extensively, so the yield was expected to be better.
As soon as people discovered that they could easily mix corn with barley, rye and wheat, they decided to cultivate it.
Fires were needed to dry malted barley but there was no peat to fuel them. However, there was enough wood to meet the demand for heating.
Sadly, the Whisky was devoid of peaty flavor.
The addition of hops, the use of rye, and the charring of casks helped American whisky makers compensate for the lack of peat.
Aside from clean, iron-free, and low-mineral water, the new continent also boasted plenty of unspoiled wilderness.
During the late 18th century, distilleries in rural areas transitioned into pure whisky distilleries.
The number of registered stills in Pennsylvania alone reached over 3,000 by 1850.
Bourbon Whiskey Types
A whiskey must first meet the definition of American whiskey stated in the Federal Standard of Identity for Distilled Spirits of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
A pot or column still can be used to distill whiskey up to 80% ABV in all cases to prevent flavor loss. This can be achieved with either a pot or column still. Following that, it must be aged in new charred oak barrels whose alcohol content does not exceed 62.5%. A minimum ageing period is not required.
The minimum ABV allowed for all American whiskey is 40%, but higher percentages may also be used.
Several different types of grain are used in the mash bill used to distill whiskey, which contains fermented beer. The mash must contain at least 51% corn in order to be considered bourbon.
In addition to corn, producers can choose any combination of rye, barley, and wheat for the remaining 49%. While bourbon cannot be produced in any one region of the United States, it can be produced anywhere.
In order to obtain a special label or certification, some bourbon varieties must adhere to stricter rules. In any case, the above is a basic overview of what makes a bourbon whiskey.
It is legal to produce bourbon whiskey anywhere in the United States. The state of Kentucky is still strongly associated with it.
Kentucky alone produces over 90 percent of the world’s bourbon. Many argue that its limestone-rich soil makes it a unique terroir, thus deserving of its own appellation.
A distillery must be located within the state in order to be classified as Kentucky whiskey. Grains can, however, originate outside the state.
Otherwise, the Kentucky bourbon whiskey must follow the basic rules that apply to all American whiskeys and bourbons. A minimum ageing period of one year is also required.
In the lower end of the market, Jack Daniel is the best known brand, while George Dickel represents the higher end. Lincoln County Process is a filtration technique that distinguishes Tennessee Whiskey from other whiskeys.
Charcoal chips, which often come from maple wood, are filtered through the distillate before it is stored in new oak barrels. Charcoal “chips” are sometimes as large as 2 x 2 timbers when the process is done slowly in order to impart additional flavors.
As a product of higher quality than Scottish “single-malt whisky,” American “straight” whiskey may be considered American “single-malt whiskey”. The two should not be confused, though, since they differ significantly.
The ingredients and distillation location of single-malt whisky are different. In short, it indicates that a particular whisky was produced in one distillery and is made exclusively from malted barley. Meanwhile, “straight” whiskey is often viewed as a product of age, like cognac.
You probably knew straight whiskey was aged for at least two years in oak barrels if you knew your cognac. This recipe builds on the basic standards of “bourbon” whiskey by adding additional regulations.
5.Sour Mash Bourbon
Sour mash is a technique most bourbon whiskeys can utilize. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey made it famous. By reserving a small amount of fermented mash for the following year, you can make another batch.
Spent mash is often used to feed cattle or as slop, but it can also be kept and reused in some situations. A special acid is added to the mash in order to preserve it while producing a distinctive taste and preventing bacterial growth.
It’s similar to the process of making sourdough bread, where the older mash is fermented into a new batch. In addition to ensuring consistency in taste between productions every year, the process provides producers with other benefits.
Sour mash whiskey can still be produced as small-batch whiskey, even though it is the polar opposite of it. While a small batch of sour mash whiskey generally indicates a unique flavor profile, sour martini is a method for ensuring consistency.
6.High-Rye & Wheated Bourbon
The final variety we will discuss is high-rye bourbon. The category does not contain regulations, but implies a bourbon whiskey that contains 51% corn and 20% to 35% rye.
As with high-rye whiskey, high-wheat or heated bourbon has a similar profile. Bourbon whiskeys with a considerable amount of rye may have a distinctive taste and depth. Whole wheat generally lends a mild, subtle flavor profile, heavy usage can do the opposite.
The availability of blended bourbon has increased despite historically being cheaper. Generally, blended American whiskeys must have at least 20% straight whiskey in them.
In addition to neutral spirits, it may contain colourings and flavourings that are prohibited in straight whiskey. The mixture of bourbon must include at least 51% straight bourbon whiskey, except in the case of blended bourbon.
Straight whiskey must make up at least 20% of a blended whiskey. The content of straight bourbon must make up at least 51% of a blended bourbon, while the content of a pure bourbon must be at least 50%.
Additionally, a cocktail of straight bourbon whiskey is also referred to as a “blended straight bourbon whiskey.” As straight whiskey can originate from many states, it does not qualify as straight bourbon whiskey based on the above definition.
8.Small-Batch & Single-Barrel Bourbon
Despite similarity in form, single-barrel and small-batch bourbons are very different. Bourbon whiskey is a premium kind of whiskey in both cases. Due to their limited and selected quantities, they often reflect rarity and exclusivity.
Because a small-batch whiskey has no official definition, it can mean many different things. Typically, it refers to whiskey produced by a smaller batch of mash or barrels aged separately from the company’s main production.
The concept of single-barrel bourbon is simpler and easier to understand. There has been only one barrel of whiskey bottled rather than several.
The result is an unusual taste that’s not derived from a production that’s meant to be the same every year.
Volcano Old Fashioned Whiskey Glass
- Set of 4, 10 oz Old Fashioned Glass
- Can be used for bourbon, scotch, brandy, wine or water
- This liquor glass maintains powerful flavor
- Comes Ready in a Beautiful Gift Box
City Whiskey Glass
- Set of 4, 10 Oz whiskey glasses
- Ideal for whiskey, bourbon, rye
- Made with lead-free crystal
- Extra-net design around for stability
How Does Bourbon Taste?
Compared to other types of American whiskey, bourbon has a distinctively sweet flavour profile due to the corn content. A similar ageing process is usually required, which uses new oak barrels that have been charred. Scotch whisky is more likely to be affected by new oak than by used casks, which are typically used.
The charring process allows the wood’s grain to open up and the flavor to be extracted well. Chemical reactions are also triggered that produce specific flavours, including caramel. A vanilla flavor is also created by the lack of lignin in uncharred oak.
By ageing in these barrels for a longer period, the oak will be able to impart additional flavors such as caramel and vanilla. Bourbons bottled in bourbon will usually exhibit similar flavors as straight bourbons.
Additionally, young bourbon may have a more cereal-forward character due to the use of different grains in the mash. Additionally, the other components of the mash bill influence the taste of bourbon as well.
In addition to subtly nutmeg-like notes, barley-rich bourbons often feature warm, caramel-like flavors. While rye-infused bourbon has a spicy flavor and hints of cinnamon, high-rye bourbon has a cinnamon flavor.
Bourbon’s carbs, sugar, and calories
Sugar should not be present in bourbon whiskey, despite its sweet flavour. A straight bourbon whiskey cannot contain any additions, including caramel coloring.
The distillation process should remove gluten from bourbon even though it is made from grain that contains gluten. It should not be a problem for most people who are gluten intolerant.
Nevertheless, more severe conditions, such as celiac’s disease, do report some symptoms occasionally. However, distilled spirits generally contain no gluten. Other than that, bourbon whiskey is very light in calories and contains no carbs. In one ounce (30 ml) of liquid, you won’t get more than 70 calories.
1. Is it necessary to make it in Kentucky?
A lot of people associate bourbon with ‘Bluegrass State’, but in fact, it is manufactured only in that state. A Kentucky distillers’ association report stated that 95 percent of whiskey in the world comes from Kentucky. Bourbon can’t always be produced in America, but new distilleries open across the country every day.
2. Is it possible to make it outside of America?
A ‘bourbon’ cannot be used for whiskey distilled anywhere else in the world, as it is a ‘distinctive product of the US’ under federal standards.
3. What is the difference between whiskey and bourbon?
The mash (you start with a mixture of grains from which you distill the drink) of a whiskey must contain at least 51 percent corn in order to be called bourbon. Distilled mash must be no more than 160 proof, distillate should be stored in new oak barrels at 125 proof or less, and it does not contain any additives.
4. Is bourbon aged?
Despite the fact bourbon must be stored in charred oak barrels, there is no minimum ageing requirement stipulated in the standards. To qualify as straight bourbon, however, bourbon must have been aged for at least two years and must have been aged for less than 4 years.
5. Does it make good cocktails?
The classic old fashioned and refreshing mint julep both feature bourbon as an ingredient in the cocktail. The unique flavor profile of bourbon can be utilized to create a variety of fantastic cocktails.