Scotch, Tequila and Cognac all take their names from the regions where they are produced. It’s the same for Bourbon. All Bourbon must be made in the region of Bourbon, Kentucky, USA. It must be both distilled and matured in the US.
It is a whiskey, spelt with the ‘e’, unlike Scotch whisky, for example.
Bourbon distilleries must also adhere to a set of rules and regulations, meaning that not all whiskies that are made in Bourbon are entitled to be named as such.
These regulations were introduced in May 1964, as a Standard of Identity for Distilled Spirits. It came after Bourbon received recognition as a ‘distinctive product of the United States’ by the US Congress.
Bourbon is a grain whiskey. Made from various grains the majority must be maize (over 51%), rye is also widely used to make Bourbon, giving it a spicy character.
Bourbons are also generally sweet, expect lots of vanilla notes. This comes from the virgin American oak wood (Quercus Alba) that must be used for maturation. Ensuring the intense tastes, this also allows a strong, on-going trade for the coopers.
Due to the climate, the spirit develops much quicker than in other countries meaning the maturation can be complete after two years. Bourbons are generally younger than other whiskies such as the Scotch or Japanese.
A great introduction to Bourbon Whiskey would be the Wild Turkey or Buffalo Trace. The more sensitive palate would appreciate Eagle Rare’s 10 years old whereas those whom already have the taste for it would prefer The Woodford Reserve. For those looking for something different, check out the many liqueurs that are now made with honey, spices or cream. The Jim Beam range offers something for everyone, coming in many forms such as Red Stag black cherry, apple, honey or the Devil’s Cut.
“Happiness is having a rare steak, a bottle of whiskey and a dog, to eat the rare steak.”