And so after seven days, the Whisky Waffle boys finally stumbled out of the endless Kentucky cornfields. Many interesting facts had gone in one ear and out the other (must have been something to do with the corn), and much sippin’ of spirits had been accomplished.
We scaled the (Brokeback) Mountain of American whiskies, and came out safely on the other side. So what did we learn?
The story of forbidden love between two men… and bourbon.
Not all cowboys drink bourbon. We met one in a bar the other night (right in the middle of bourbon week of all times. You couldn’t make this stuff up), and he preferred the moon to be shining hard on his liquor;
We won’t be tracking down the Jack Daniels or the Jim Beam again any time soon. As with most things, you get what you pay for;
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.