Tag Archives: bourbon

Bourbon. And Something Similar.

Our first distillery stop was Buffalo Trace. On the way in we randomly saw a Puerto Rican license plate. It was a unique one to add to our list because every road trip has to have a license plate list.

Buffalo Trace is just outside of Frankfort, Kentucky. After doing a Scotch road trip through Scotland, it was time to learn about something closer to home – Bourbon. The name comes from the Bourbon family of whom a county was named after. Barrels had the name of the county printed on them – Bourbon. Thus Bourbon was adopted as the name.

Bourbon involves the ABCs. Three important properties of Bourbon.  Made in America. An American White Oak Barrel, a wood-charred single-use Barrel must be used. These are typically exported afterwards (to Scotland and elsewhere). And finally, it has to be 51 percent Corn, an American grain.

Different floors of the warehouse create different flavors due to temperature fluctuations. They have different product lines based on recipe (again grain proportions), floor level, and time. Maker’s Mark is a company that rotates levels to keep a consistent flavor.

Buffalo Trace created a line of tornado whiskey as 11 years ago a tornado ripped off the roof. Amazingly no barrels were lost. The exposure to the sun, air, and other elements gave the whiskey a unique flavor. These bottles are selling for $32,000 online… (although I couldn’t find this in actuality, if anyone has any leads please let me know!)

In the tasting area we got a chance to try Bourbon Cream and some moonshine. The bourbon cream was rather unique and would be a nice addition to coffee (if you’re into that…) or tea or anything really.

In Tennessee we went to the Town Branch Distillery. They have a brewery as well but we skipped the brewery tour for the distillery part. They had some rum and a coffee type thing for tasting as well.

One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to Jack Daniels. My S.O. had been there before but this was my first time. As it tends to be my drink of choice I was elated to say the least. View the next post for proper coverage of this.

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Whiskey – Tell me more!

Do you know the difference between whiskey and spirit? Scotch and Bourbon? Well let me enlighten you!

(Disclaimer – This is coming from my memory and while I believe it to be accurate it could be slightly inaccurate. Do remember that I was under the influence of whiskey when I obtained this information.)

Whiskey is spirit after it is three years old. Before this time it is known simply as spirit. 

Scotch is whiskey made in Scotland, typically from malted barley. Bourbon is made from corn and typically comes from the United States. There is a law in the U.S. that whiskey barrels can only be used once. This benefits the Scotch makers a lot! And results in some whiskies being aged in bourbon barrels. Port and Sherry barrels are also common. These tend to affect the color of the whiskey, giving it a redder color and fruitier flavor. 

Malted barley tends to be made offsite now and then is brought in when ready. The barley is ground up first but ideally there are a mix of big and small bits. Hot water is added to the ground up malted barley, typically in three stages. This pulls out all of the sugars. The first two go towards making the whiskey. The third tends to not be strong enough and is used as the started for the next round of malted barley. The leftover barley mash is sold off to farmers as animal feed as it is high in nutrients. 

The sugar water is known as wort. Yeast is added and the liquid is left to ferment. This is quite an interesting stage as there is a lot of froth on top of the wort. A fan moves around the top of the holding tanks to try to keep the mash down. We put our nose in one, it cleared out our sinuses like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It was sour and fermented and you could just feel it in your sinuses. 

Next the liquid, now known as wash, is distilled twice in two different stills. These copper stills are replaced every few years but the replacements are created in the exact likeness of their predecessor, including dents, etc. The shape and design of the stills affects the taste and the process so every effort to recreate the exactly is made. After distillation, the spirit is tested in the spirit safe. This used to be locked by the tax person but is basically used to test the level of alcohol. 

Now that the spirit is cooled, it is placed in a barrel and set aside for many years. Distilleries will keep some product at their location but will also rent space from various farmers or warehouses in order to spread out their product. Remember that alcohol is highly flammable. 

While in the barrel, about two percent will evaporate each year, meaning that a significant portion is lost over the course of twelve years of aging. This is called “the angel’s share.”