Bourbon is the most famous American whiskey. In fact, it is one of the most consumed barrel-aged spirits on the planet. Experts disagree wheatear the spirit takes its name from Kentucky’s Bourbon County, New Orleans’ Bourbon street or both. What we do know is people have been distilling Bourbon since the 18th century.
According to the story, it was Scottish immigrants arriving in Kentucky who began distilling grains as they had always done in the old continent. Without their beloved barley, though, master distillers made fair use of the local grains, especially corn.
Of course, distilling spirits went underground during the early 20th-century prohibition, only to rise from the ashes decades later to become America’s favorite spirit.
Bourbon must be made of at least 51% corn and be bottled at a minimum of 80% ABV. The brown spirit has to spend a not-specified period in charred oak casks, but straight Bourbon needs to be aged for at least four years.
Although Bourbon can come from any corner in the country, 95% comes from Kentucky since Tennessee now has its own whiskey style.
Bourbon has a caramel richness and an intense smoke and vanilla profile. Its underlying sweetness makes Bourbon easy to enjoy, but don’t think this make Bourbon any less special, the finest examples are coveted and hard to get.
Cocktails based on Bourbon are famous too, including the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Mint Julep and the Whiskey Sour. On a cocktail, straight or on the rocks, Bourbon will soon be your new favorite brown spirit. It’s just hard not to love.