Posted by Nick and Ted
Jim Beam: Hmm… Tastes like bourbon; Makers Mark: yup, that’s also bourbon; Woodfords Reserve: I’m detecting notes of… wait, what is that… bourbon?; Jack Daniels: technically they don’t even call it bourbon, but you know what, yeah it totally is.
In our admittedly (very) limited experience with the whiskies of the US, we both tend to agree that the overriding flavour is… well… bourbony. In Scotland a drive from one end of the town to the other can result in whiskies so different from each other that you would swear that they could not possibly be made with the same three ingredients. In contrast, across the 4500km from coast to coast in America, not much seems to change. Sure there are subtle nuances, but in the end it’s all just bourbon isn’t it?
Bourbon: The Facts You Probably Already Know But We’re Going To List Anyway: (Don’t Judge Us Ok?)
- Not all American whiskies are bourbon, but all bourbons are whiskies.
- Almost all bourbons are made in the state of Kentucky. Tennessee is too cool and narcissistic to use the term ‘bourbon’ and instead likes to go with the rather unoriginal ‘Tennessee Whiskey’.
- Bourbon is made using one of Nick’s favourite foods… Pizza!… no, wait, the other favourite… Corn! By law, bourbons must contain at least 51% corn, and no more than 80%. The remainder is usually made up of a mixture of rye, barley or wheat.
- By law, bourbon must be aged in brand new charred oak casks, thus keeping coopers in a job.
- They must all taste like bourbon.
Ok, before you all go on the warpath, we fully admit that we don’t really have a leg to stand our lofty opinions on. We have inadequate, shall we say, ‘practical knowledge’ on the subject. Therefore, we will be embarking on a week long quest to explore the amber offerings of the U.S. of A and educate ourselves about the subtleties of Scotch’s redneck American cousin. And who knows, we may even discover a flavour in there that’s not bourbon.
I think you know more about bourbon than I do. Looking forward to further posts!
Hmm, I’m not so sure. There’s a difference between reciting facts and actually tasting differences! We shall see how we go!
Keep on waffling,
Good luck, lads, I look forward to your journey. But…there’s a real good reason I drink Scotch.You can trace many of America’s problems to the size of the place. As ol’ Bloody Jack Rousseau explained in The Social Contract, countries that are too large have huge ungainly markets and result in the tyranny of the majority (OK He was talking politics, and I’ve hijacked that…). So we tend to get bland results from our national brands (lowest common denominator problem). We’ve succeeded in launching many craft beers in the last 3 decades, and now a lot of these places are turning to whiskies but, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, it’s early days for the craft whisky phenom. Keep an eye on McMenamin’s, Eastside Distilling (Burnside Bourbon) and Rogue Distillery here in Oregon. Drive on!
Ah man, I’d love to try some of the Rogue stuff. Actually, I’d love to visit Portland in general. I can get Rogue beers here, but visiting the Nation would be awesome. As you have noted in our last couple of posts, we agree with your assessment that the big boys ain’t necessarily the best. I think the craft industry model works really well as it allows a very hands on approach that lets the drinker feel part of the brand. Works well here in Tassie for a whole variety of products. And the whole movement will just keep getting bigger and bigger in America. I mean, just look at your home state (which I assume you do at relatively regular intervals). I look forward to seeing more funky craft distilled American whiskies and bourbons in the future (assuming the ever make in over this side of the world).
Keep on waffling
Enjoy the bourbon journey lads. Looking forward to your wafflings on what you learn!
P.S. The HP geek in me commends the choice of books on the lower shelf!
I wondered if anyone would notice that! Ha ha, nice one. And we shall enjoy the bourbon journey. Well… except for this first one we’re putting up…
Keep on waffling,