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The Bourbon FAQ

Written by Super User.



The Straightbourbon FAQ

What is bourbon? There are strict laws governing just what a Bourbon must be to be labeled as such. For example, at least 51 percent of the grain used in making the whiskey must be corn (most distillers use 65 to 75 percent corn). Bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years in new, white oak barrels that have been charred. Nothing can be added at bottling to enhance flavor, add sweetness or alter color. What is small batch bourbon? Small batch bourbons are bottlings from a "batch" of barrels that have been mixed prior to the bottling. Some of the more well known small batch bourbons include: Baker's, Booker's, Basil Hayden's, Knob Creek, Maker's Mark, and Woodford Reserve. What is a single barrel bourbon? Bourbons called single barrel are the bottling of one "single" barrel of bourbon. The single barrel bourbons include: Elijah Craig, 18 years old; Blanton's; Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon; Henry McKenna, Single Barrel; and Evan William's Vintage. Where is bourbon made? Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States. All but a couple of brands are made in Kentucky. Why is this whiskey called bourbon? A hotly debated topic, but it likely takes its name from Bourbon County, located in the central Bluegrass region of Kentucky. It was formed from Fayette county in 1785 while still a part of Virginia and named to honor the French Royal Family and was once the major transshipment site for distilled spirits heading down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. Barrels shipped from its ports were stamped with the county's name, and Bourbon and whiskey soon became synonymous. Is Jack Daniel's a bourbon? Jack Daniel's, is not considered a bourbon because it is charcoal-mellowed -- slowly, drop by drop, filtered through sugar-maple charcoal -- prior to aging, which many experts say gives it a different character. The process, called the Lincoln County Process, infuses a sweet and sooty character into the distillate as it removes impurities. But up to and after the charcoal filtering, the Jack Daniel's production is much the same as any other Bourbon. Jack Daniel's and George Dickel are two fine Tennessee Whiskeys though neither can be called bourbon. What is proof? Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Unabridged, 2cd ed., s.v. "proof" and "proof spirit." Proof, 8. The relative strength of an alcoholic liquor with reference to the arbitrary standard for proof spirit, taken as 100 proof. Proof spirit, An alcoholic liquor, or a mixture of alcohol and water, containing 50 per cent of its volume of alcohol having a specific gravity of .7939 at 60° F. Before the hydrometer became a common instrument of the distiller there existed a method of proofing known as "gunpowder proof". It was a simple procedure and took advantage of readily available "tools". Bourbon and gunpowder were mixed in equal proportions in a small fireproof vessel and ignited. If the flame burned yellow the liquor was too strong, if it burned blue the proof was true. A yellow proofed liquor was mellowed with spring water until it burned blue. The proof of a blue flame spirit was about 100, or 50 per cent. How many calories are in a shot of bourbon? About 80-90, depending on proof. What is the difference between straight bourbon, blended bourbon and sourmash bourbon? Today, all straight bourbons are produced by the sour-mash method. In the sour-mash method, backset (liquid from a previous distillation) is added to the mash in addition to yeast. The backset helps to make the next batch of bourbon similar to the previous ones by passing on some of the characteristics of the previous batches (this is similar to using a "starter" when making sourdough bread). Straight bourbons are produced in accordance to the laws mentioned in FAQ #1 What is bourbon? and contain only undiluted grain distillates. Blended bourbons contain at least 51 percent straight bourbon mixed with neutral grain spirits. Why isn't Jack Daniel's or George Dickel listed on this site? Because they are not bourbon. They are both Tennessee sour mash whiskies. See FAQ #6 for the details. Does bourbon contain caffeine? Bourbon does not contain caffeine. Bourbon is an entirely natural product. Nothing is added to it. The sole ingredients are grain, water and yeast, and whatever comes in from the wood during aging. Can I make my own bourbon? Unlicensed distillation of alcohol is a serious crime in the United States. Also, bourbon is a product of more than the distillation process. After you have distilled your whiskey, you would then have to age it in new, charred white oak barrels for a few years in a suitable warehouse. In other words, it's not exactly the same as homebrewing beer. If you don't think making beer is worth the time, making your own whiskey is 100 times worse. I don't see the answer to my question here!
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