Bourbon is a type of American whiskey primarily made from corn, at least 51%, along with other grains like wheat, rye, or barley. It must be aged in new charred oak barrels, and distilled to no more than 80% alcohol by volume (ABV), before being aged in the barrels at no more than 62.5% ABV.
When you buy bourbon whiskey, the distilled spirit cannot be aged in the barrel at more than this ABV level (125 proof). However, it's common for bourbons to be distilled at a higher proof than 62.5%. If a bourbon is distilled at 79% ABV (158 proof), for example, it will be diluted with water to bring the alcohol content down to 62.5% ABV or lower before it's placed into the barrel for aging. The process of diluting the distilled spirit with water is known as "proofing down." The amount of water added to the bourbon can impact its flavor and consistency, and it's typically done slowly to ensure that the final proof is within the legal range for bourbon. During the aging process, some of the alcohol evaporates from the barrel, which is known as the "angel's share."
Bourbon is known for its sweet, vanilla and caramel flavors, which come from the charred oak barrels. It is produced exclusively in the US and is named after Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it was first distilled. While most Bourbons are made in Kentucky, they can be produced in any state in the US, including California. You can even have Bourbon delivery California! To be classified as Bourbon, it must meet specific legal requirements set by the federal government, including the mash bill, barrel type, and aging process. These regulations are in place to ensure consistency and quality of the product.
Criteria of Excellent Bourbon
Criteria to consider when selecting an excellent Bourbon include:
- Age: The age of a Bourbon can significantly impact its flavor profile and complexity. Generally, older Bourbons tend to have more depth and complexity of flavors. Therefore, it's essential to look for a Bourbon that has been aged for at least 10-15 years.
- Mash Bill: The mash bill refers to the blend of grains used to make the Bourbon. A higher percentage of rye in the mash bill can result in a spicier flavor profile, while a higher percentage of corn can produce a sweeter taste. Consider what type of flavor profile you prefer when selecting a Bourbon with a particular mash bill.
- Distillery: Different distilleries have their unique flavor profiles and production methods, so it's worth considering the reputation of the distillery when selecting a Bourbon.
- Barrel: The type of barrel used to age the Bourbon can significantly impact its flavor profile. For example, barrels made from American white oak are commonly used to age Bourbon and can impart flavors of vanilla and caramel.
- Proof: The proof of a Bourbon refers to its alcohol content. Bourbons with higher proof tend to have a more robust flavor profile and can be more expensive. However, it's essential to consider your personal preference for alcohol content and how you plan to enjoy the Bourbon (neat, on the rocks, in a cocktail, etc.)
You online liquor store California has some fantastic Bourbon options
- Young & Yonder Bourbon: a four-grain high-malt recipe
- Willett Bourbon: aromas of brown sugar, molasses and caramel
- Wilderness Trail Small Batch Wheated Bourbon: premium cooper select barrels
- Pinhook Collaboration Series Edition No. 2 Garrett Oliver 4 Year Bourbon Whiskey: the name says it all
- Garrison Brothers Small Batch Texas Bourbon Whiskey: made – from corn-to-cork – in Hye, Texas, one barrel at a time
Did you learn something new about Bourbon Whiskey? It’s always good to try different one to find the perfect match for your personal taste or special occasion. Please leave us a comment below!