“Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.” ~ Mark Twain
September is National Bourbon Month. What a reason to celebrate!
Bourbon is America’s only native drink and small batch distilleries have sprouted up across the country. Even though about 95% of bourbon is made in Kentucky, it does not have to be.
By definition bourbon must: be made in the US, be made from a grain mixture that is between 51-80% corn, be aged in new charred oak barrels, be distilled to no more then 80% ABV, and be bottled at no less than 40%ABV. To be labeled as “straight” bourbon, it must have been aged for at least two years and have no added coloring or flavoring.
While there are many bourbon cocktails, I prefer to drink mine neat or with a drop of water.*
photo from Facebook
The world’s best selling bourbon is Jim Beam. The original distillery was built in 1788 and rebuilt by the founder’s great-grandson after prohibition ended. Still made by the original family, they have expanded their line to include many options ranging from flavored to premium offerings.
The original Jim Beam is aged for 4 years in new charred oak barrels giving a mellow feel with notes of vanilla and caramel over a spicy back note for this medium-bodied bourbon.
photo from Facebook
I can’t write a bourbon post without mentioning Pappy Van Winkle. Now produced in the Buffalo Trace distillery, there is a limited production to just 7,000 cases per year (for perspective, Jim Beam sells around 7,000,000 cases per year). Using a recipe that includes corn, wheat, and barley instead of traditional corn, rye, and barley, Pappy Van Winkle has a softer, smoother taste and ages more gracefully. Their Family Reserve 20 year is the #1 rated bourbon in the world.
Throughout this month we will focus on some of my favorite bourbon cocktails and DC bourbon bars.
*Water is to spirits what air is to wine. A drop or two of water will open up your spirit and allow aromas to be released. My recommendation is to first taste neat then add water and see how it alters the flavors.