Bourbon whiskey

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Bourbon bottle, 19th century
Bourbon is an American form of whiskey, made from at least 51% but not more than 80% of corn (maize in the Old World) (typically about 70%, with the remainder being wheat or rye, along with other grains), distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof, and aged in new charred white oak barrels for at least two years (usually much longer). Most of the time it is then adjusted to 80-100 proof and bottled, although some are bottled at "cask strength." In recent years the trend, with the exception of a few, mostly ultrapremium brands, has been toward lower proofs, generally 80 proof. In part this is due to the fact that some (mostly non-U.S.) jurisdictions do not allow alcoholic beverages with over 40% alcohol content to be sold and this makes all production suitable for sale in these jurisdictions; predominantly the major motive seems to be an economic one, as obviously it is less expensive for the distiller to stretch his product with more water; and the tax burden on the distiller is also reduced. However, retail prices have not been reduced commensurate to the reduction in alcohol content.

The name derives from Bourbon County, Kentucky, which was itself named after the French royal family at the time of the American Revolutionary War. A concurrent resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1964 restricted bourbon to U.S. production. Some stories about its origins there are not true, such as its purported invention by Baptist minister and distiller Elijah Craig.

A refinement introduced by Scottish chemist Dr. James C. Crow was the sour mash process, by which each new fermentation is conditioned with some amount of spent beer (previously fermented mash that has been separated from its alcohol), in much the same way that sourdough bread is made from starter. The acid introduced by using the sour mash controls the growth of bacteria that could taint the whiskey. As of 2005, all straight bourbons use a sour mash process. Crow developed this refinement while working at the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery (now the Woodford Reserve Distillery) in Woodford County, Kentucky.

Curiously, when thinking about bourbon, many people first think of the brand Jack Daniel's, which is of the similar Tennessee style, and not technically a bourbon because it goes through the Lincoln County Process. Almost all bourbons are distilled in Kentucky, and it is often said that only Kentucky whiskey can properly be called bourbon; this is, however, not true, as those few exceptions to the rule demonstrate. As of today, there are no running distilleries in Bourbon County.

An act of the U.S. Congress in 1964 declared bourbon to be "America's Native Spirit," i.e. America's official drink.

See also: Corn whiskey, Rye whiskey, Scotch whisky, Canadian whisky, Moonshine.

Some modern bourbon distilleries and brands

External links

ja:バーボン・ウィスキー sv:Bourbon zh:波本威士忌


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