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Bourbon Whiskey

The quintessential American libation, Bourbon conjures images of corn fields and little streams cutting their way through Kentucky. Kentucky is Bourbon country in spirit and, indeed, in name. For when the American pioneers first colonized the country, they divided up the land and one plot, which covered much of what is now Kentucky, was named Bourbon, for the French Royal Family.

The county was formed in 1786. Originally part of Virginia, it was not until 1792 that Bourbon County was transferred to the new State of Kentucky. There was a great quantity of corn-based whiskey produced in the area, and it was shipped from a port on the Ohio River, which lay in Bourbon County. The barrels were stamped with their origin, ‘Old Bourbon’, and thus the name stuck. The principal distinction in Bourbon whiskey is the make up of the mash bill. The mash bill is the list of cereal grains used for distillation. Bourbon is distilled from 51% corn, differing it from other American spirits. Other grains are used including wheat, rye and barley.

Distillation is achieved in a pot still before ageing in new, charred oak barrels. The use of charred barrels is credited, by and large, to Reverend Elijah Craig. Such claims are not necessarily reliable, but the story is worth mentioning, for it is so oft told. The significance of this is decidedly great, for the Scotch whisky industry uses a proliferation of ex bourbon barrels, as do the rum and tequila fraternities. Elijah kept an outhouse, in which he stored his barrels and one day, a fire tore through the building, blackening his casks. The reverend filled his scorched barrels regardless, and found the charred inners imparted a vanilla sweetness and a rich hue.

Once a bourbon barrel has been emptied, it cannot be reused, thus they are shipped for use overseas. The spirit is aged for two years and bottled at a minimum of 40% alcohol by volume. There has been that more recent phenomenon of small batch and high end bourbons. The market for these is substantial and ever-growing, as consumers lean toward quality over quantity. Single barrel offerings and artisan products are of increasing popularity.

Bourbon Whiskey

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Bourbon Whisky Across Countries

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Evan Williams Extra
(70cl, 43.30%)
A darkly hued sour mash bourbon, aged for seven years. Rich feinty flavours like leather, vanilla and toffee. Very enjoyable.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$41.16
Ultra-cool. Four roses Bourbon from the time of Gordon Gecko.  More info
$120.81
This bottle of Jim Beam's classic White Label that dates from the 2000s.  More info
$40.27
Henry McKenna Kentucky Bourbon comes from Fairfax, KY. Their 10 Year Old Single Barrel release was bottled in bond and is one of the small number of "extra aged" bourbons currently in production that...  More info
$120.81
Old Grand-Dad - 1980s
(75cl, 40%)
The unmistakable Old Grand-Dad bourbon is as traditional as they come, which might be why it has been seen in many piece of literature, including the James Bond novel 'Live and Let Die', Raymond...  More info
$120.81
Barrel 115 of Blanton's Original Single Barrel was emptied in 2005! Somehow, this bottle has survived since then without being opened.  More info
$100.67
Blanton's Original Single Barrel bourbon, coming from barrel 19, which is the same shirt number that Tore André Flo had when he played for Chelsea F.C. in 1997. Why do we know this? We don't really...  More info
$99.82
Complete with stars & stripes and the red, white & blue, this bottle of Medley's Kentucky Bourbon is a real American hero. This bottling comes from the 1970s.  More info
$201.35
The chap riding the horse atop this bottle of Blanton's Original Single Barrel looks pretty excited, and we can't blame him. Who wouldn't be happy to see this brilliant bourbon from barrel 102?  More info
$100.67
This bright, bonded bottle of Old Forester Bourbon was produced in the 2000s, before the brand had got its snazzy redesign. Saying that, these classic bottles are handsome in their own right. When it...  More info
$80.54
50cl of 4 year old Stillbrook Bourbon, distilled and bottled in Illinois. Not exactly the first place you'd think of for bourbon production, but they obviously had a pretty good thing going back in...  More info
$130.87
This is the superb 2012 release of Parker's Heritage bourbon - a mix of some of Heaven Hill's best styles including rye- and wheat-based whiskey. The result of this is rich, buttery and full of spice.  More info
$194.25
Eagle Rare is a great single barrel bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery. This 10 year old expression was very well-rated by Spirit Journal's F Paul Pacult.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$61.83
Benchmark by name, benchmark by nature. This really is one for the more well Bourbon producers to beat, and despite its status as an outsider, really warrants some attention - especially if cocktails...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$36.21
Wonderfully packaged, this 1970s bottle of Four Roses 6 Year Old Kentucky Bourbon comes with a glass. A very collectible and rather useful gift pack from over 30 years ago.  More info
$181.21
Blanton's Original Single Barrel bourbon is a favourite of many, and it's not hard to see why. Fantastic notes of vanilla, warm caramel, chocolate and orange, who wouldn't love to be served up a glass...  More info
$99.82
Prepare yourself for hellz-a-poppin' good times, Blanton's Straight from the Barrel is the very finest thing there is in all of the world. Oh my. This stuff is a sour mash whiskey, distilled from a...  More info
$104.58
The horse atop the Blanton's bottle is almost as recognisable as the wonderful single barrel bourbon. Almost is obviously the major word in that last sentence, as Blanton's make some bloomin'...  More info
$87.89
Colonel Albert B. Blanton was the first to bottle single barrel bourbon years and years ago for his own personal reserve. Luckily, now we can all pretend were are the Colonel. This bottle of Blanton's...  More info
$99.82
Wild Turkey as it was enjoyed by good ole boys in the early 1980s. The bottle is in great shape which probably can't be said for the good ole boys themselves. The seal is intact.  More info
$161.08
Although these days Beam's Choice is a 5 year old Kentucky bourbon, for a long time, it was an 8 year old. This bottle, which was released in 1979, features the 8 year old Jim Beam bourbon.  More info
$241.61
Stored in the famous Warehouse H, Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon was the first of its kind when it was commercially released in 1984, and it's still as brilliant as it was back then. This bottling...  More info
$100.67
The Master's Rare Bourbon brand was founded in 1836, although this bottling dates from the 1970s.  More info
$201.35
A 2000s bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old Bourbon, still produced by the Van Winkle family today, although now they do so at the Buffalo Trace distillery. Their bourbon is made with corn, wheat...  More info
$241.61
"Eau de I. W. Harper... '12 year old'."

Oh, hold on - this isn't a massive aftershave bottle! It's whiskey from the 1970s!  More info
$241.61
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