Bourbon whiskey liquor is a variety of whisky that uses a minimum of fifty one percent corn in the distillation
process. Using corn makes for quite a difference during this journey from field to mouth. The name Bourbon comes
from the county in Kentucky formed in 1785 in a shipping region now known for its distilling skills.
All whiskeys are made from grain, often using barley as a base. The barley is soaked to germinate, then dried
and mixed with water and yeast. The liquid is heated and the evaporate flows up through a bent-neck still where it
ultimately condenses into another container. The brew is then placed in barrels to age for a few years to make the
golden beverage enjoyed by millions.
One difference between Bourbon and whiskey is how the barrel is chosen and used. American White Oak is the usual
choice, because it lends a chemical called lactone that brings out a flavor recognized around the world. A legal
requirement is that the charred barrels can only be used once during the process. However, they can then go on to
be used by makers of fine scotch.
While the legal requirement to be called Bourbon is fifty one percent corn in the mash, most distillers will use
up to seventy five percent. It is the high use of this alternative grain that gives the brew its distinctive
flavor. In addition, according to law, it must be aged at least two years. Nevertheless, ten or 25, or even fifty
years in the barrel is far from unknown. Nothing is added to artificially color or flavor the resulting
Ironically, one of the brands most associated with Bourbon is not technically one at all. Jack Daniels, a fine
and mellow liquid appreciated by whiskey aficionados worldwide, is filtered through sugar maple charcoal before
being placed in the cask to age. This so-called Lincoln County process removes impurities and imparts a unique
taste. However, introducing it removes the product from the category that in all other respects it resembles.
Jim Beam, on the other hand, carries that category name proudly on the label. While perhaps the best known
Bourbon, it is far from the only fine whiskey of that type. Blanton's, for example, is a reddish amber brew whose
color reflects its taste. The citrus tones blend with cloves and caramel to produce a result that no Jim Beam lover
would wisely turn down.
Blanton's is only one of many so-called 'Single Barrel' Bourbons, the name deriving from the fact that each
bottle comes from a single barrel of premium charred oak. The result, such as that found in a bottle of Wild Turkey
Rare Breed, is also premium. The latter's mixture of vanilla and peppery tastes is appreciated anywhere fine
whiskeys are sampled and that covers a lot of ground, literally. The love of Bourbon has spread as far as
With the decision to use corn as the base for ethanol fuel, the price of good Bourbon may rise. Nevertheless,
one thing about this spirit will always remain the same and that is the outstanding taste many generations have
come to know and love.