The Distinction Of American Bourbon: An Intro For Whiskey Enthusiasts
Whiskey is a popular alcoholic beverage enjoyed by people all over the world, and among the various types of whiskey, American Bourbon has earned a special place. Known for its rich and smooth taste, American Bourbon is a staple in many bars and households. But what makes it different from other types of whiskey, and how did it become so popular?
Bourbon can trace its roots back to the late 1700s in what is now known as Kentucky. The state was settled by Scots-Irish, German, and English immigrants who brought their traditional whiskey-making techniques with them. In 1783, a Baptist minister named Elijah Craig began producing whiskey from corn, which was abundant in the region, and aging it in charred oak barrels. This whiskey was then shipped down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, where it became popular as “Bourbon Whiskey.” The name “Bourbon” is believed to have originated from the French Bourbon dynasty or from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where Craig first distilled the whiskey.
The production of Bourbon increased significantly in the early 19th century, and by the mid-1850s, Kentucky was producing over 4 million gallons of Bourbon annually. However, the Civil War and Prohibition in the 1920s dealt a significant blow to the industry, and it took several decades for it to recover.
It was not until the post-World War II era that Bourbon once again gained popularity, and it has since become one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. Today, Bourbon is produced in many states, but 95% of it is still made in Kentucky.
So, what makes American Bourbon different from other types of whiskey? To be considered a Bourbon, the whiskey must be made from a mixture of grains that is at least 51% corn. It must also be aged for a minimum of two years in new, charred oak barrels and bottled at no less than 80 proof. Additionally, it cannot contain any added flavorings or colorings, and it must be made in the United States.
The use of charred oak barrels imparts unique flavors to the whiskey, such as vanilla, caramel, and toasty oak, which gives it its rich and smooth taste. The aging process also removes any impurities and gives the whiskey its characteristic golden color.
Some of the most well-known producers of American Bourbon include Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, and Buffalo Trace. Each of these producers has its unique methods and recipes, and they offer a range of products at different price points.
Jim Beam, founded in 1795, is one of the oldest and largest producers of Bourbon. Its flagship product, Jim Beam Bourbon, is a balanced and smooth whiskey that is well-suited for sipping or mixing in cocktails. Maker’s Mark, on the other hand, is known for its distinctive red wax seal and its smooth and slightly sweet taste. Wild Turkey is a popular brand that offers a range of products, including its flagship Wild Turkey 101, which is known for its bold and spicy flavor. Buffalo Trace is a smaller producer that specializes in high-end Bourbons, including its flagship Buffalo Trace Bourbon, which is known for its complex and well-balanced flavor.
Whether you are a newcomer to the world of whiskey or a seasoned connoisseur, American Bourbon is a great place to start. From its roots in Kentucky to its current popularity, American Bourbon has a storied history and a taste that sets it apart from other types of whiskey. So next time you’re in the mood for a drink, consider trying a glass of American Bourbon, and taste for yourself the unique flavors and history that make it a staple in the world of whiskey.