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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 Whisky

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Bourbon Whiskey Across Countries

Bourbon Whisky Across Countries

Professor Cornelius Ampleforth
Yamazaki Whisky Distillery
Worship Street Whistling Shop
Monkey Shoulder Whisky
The Hot Enough Vodka Co
Master of Malt Single Cask Whisky
A new 75cl bottle and label (which features a rather intense looking fellow with an intimidating beard) for Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year old, bottled at 107 proof. It's still an awesome bourbon, packed...  More info
$116.25
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
$225.45
A late 1960s release of Old Taylor Kentucky Bourbon, in its classic bottle.  More info
$281.81
We had the immense pleasure of trying this at Whisky Live, really great stuff; Van Winkle 23 is a super bourbon of epic proportions. They release yearly batches of this, all of which sell out rather...  More info
$568.85
A well aged whiskey from Old Rip Van Winkle, this bottling of Family Reserve has been aged for 15 years in heavily charred barrels, there is a high wheat con10t in the mashbill.  More info
Incredibly old for a bourbon, this bottling of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve was aged for 20 years and retains a beautiful sweetness, a perfect digestif bourbon.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$262.05
A unique bourbon from Parker's Heritage range. This is a very rare example of a cognac cask-finished bourbon, although strictly speaking, we can't call it a bourbon at all as US laws dictate whiskey...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$125.23
One of the most astonishing bourbons you'll ever try. This was made in memory of Parker Beam - a member of the Beam family who had been in the industry for over 50 years. John Hansell even went so far...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
Created to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Parker Beam's tenure at Heaven Hill Distillery, this superb Bourbon is a limited release of only 4,500 bottles. Get it while you can.  More info
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
$181.25
Remember Rebel Yell back in the 1980s? Insert Billy Idol joke here. This rare bottling dates from when this delicious whiskey was only distributed below the Mason-Dixon Line!

Already sold out? Not...  More info
$150.30
An absolutely superb single barrel bourbon. Wine Enthusiast rate this 96 points, commenting: "Wow". Rock Hill Farms was also Recommended by Whisky Magazine.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$116.03
From the Rock Town Distillery in beautiful Arkansas, comes their Arkansas Bourbon Whiskey (previously known as the Arkansas Young Bourbon, which won Double Gold in the Small Batch Bourbon 10 Years and...  More info
$61.92
A young distillery, Rock Town was founded in 2010, but their Arkansas Young Bourbon is even younger, as it's matured for only 8 months.

Impressively, it still received Double Gold at the 2013 San...  More info
$61.92
Rowan's Creek is a small batch bourbon from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers Co. This has a very smooth, rounded character with lovely spicy, fruity flavours.  More info
$60.06
Smooth Ambler is a fantastic craft distillery in West Virginia established in 2009 by TAG Galyean and John Little. Whilst they produce their own vodka, gins and whiskeys from grain to glass, this is...  More info
$83.28
A 7 year old straight Bourbon whiskey scouted out for bottling by the chaps at Smooth Ambler distillery in West Viginia. Made from a mashbill of 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malt, this top-quality whiskey...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$74.21
Criminally good bourbon from St. George Spirits in California. Their Breaking & Entering Bourbon is made with whiskey sourced from rickhouses in Kentucky, "liberated" by St. George distillers Lance...  More info
"Leg it! It's The Five-0!"
Don't worry, you're not going to get nicked for having a bottle of St. George Breaking & Entering Bourbon. In fact, it's the Californian distillery that's potentially...  More info
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
$122.12
A rare 1960s bottling of Stillbrook straight bourbon produced in Illinois by the American Distilling Company. It was aged for 4 years and comes in a 1.2 litre bottle.  More info
$469.69
This bottling of Van Winkle Special Reserve was aged for 12 years, it received a Gold medal at the 2008 International Wine and Spirit Competition, bottled at 90.4 proof, this is a smooth, mature...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$122.31
This is a bottle of Very Old Fitzgerald, bottled at 50% abv after eight years' maturation… at some point in the 1960s. So one might refer to this as Very, Very Old Fitzgerald. Tantalising. It has some...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$234.84
A 1983 bottling of Virginia Gentleman Straight Bourbon, made by the A. Smith Bowman distillery (which is owned by Buffalo Trace). The brand has since grown since this antique bottle was released, and...  More info
$187.87
Wild Turkey - 1990s
(100cl, 40%)
A delicious and very rare 80 proof bottling of Wild Turkey bourbon. This was bottled at some time during the 1990s…  More info
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