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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

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Jim Beam White Label
(70cl, 40%)
Jim Beam bourbon undergoes distillation at lower temperatures and is distilled to no more than 62.5%, the White label is aged for four years and has quite a high percentage of rye in the mashbill.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$26.58
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
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$28.17
A sour mash bourbon from Heaven Hill, JW Dant Special Reserve has a strong rye influence.  More info
$28.62
A 4 year old bourbon from Heaven Hill. This is quite a smooth and easy style of bourbon.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$28.62
Four Roses Bourbon
(70cl, 40%)
A brand that dates back to the late 19 century. This Yellow Label bottling of Four Roses was released for the European and Japanese markets and is made up of whiskeys aged between 5 and 6 years of...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$33.06
Buffalo Trace
(70cl, 40%)
The new edition of the classic Kentucky straight bourbon, Buffalo Trace. A great whiskey, with oodles of vanilla, barrel char and spicy complexity.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$33.94
This is an updated version of the classic Jim Beam Black Label. This Bourbon has been aged for six years and is one of the most recognisable whisky brands in the world.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$34.13
In the midnight hour, she cried “more, more, more”, more delicious bourbon please. Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is now made at Heaven Hill, using William Larue Weller's original wheat...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$34.50
Wild Turkey 81 Proof
(70cl, 40.50%)
A lower strength bourbon from Wild Turkey, bottled at 81 proof (40.5% abv) and created by the associate distiller Eddie Russell, the son of master distiller Jimmy Russell. This has a high rye content...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$34.52
A handmade Kentucky bourbon, this 4 year old Johnny Drum has been produced in a method that has remained the same through 5 generations of master distillers. Produced in small batches.  More info
$35.30
Ancient Age Bourbon
(75cl, 40%)
Ancient Age is a Kentucky straight bourbon that has been around since 1946, currently made by Buffalo Trace. A simple, classic bourbon, no stranger to being sipped neat or splashed in a cocktail.  More info
$35.63
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)
$38.47
Bulleit Bourbon
(70cl, 40%)
Bulleit is bottled in an old-fashioned style bottle, there is a relatively high proportion of rye in the mashbill which proffers plenty of pep. This bourbon was awarded a Gold medal at the 2004 San...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$38.71
The "Extra" in "Evan Williams Extra" stands for extra aged, as it has been aged for seven years. Still made using techniques that Evan Williams used himself when he first made the fantastic bourbon...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$38.97
Jim Beam Devils Cut
(70cl, 45%)
This is the result of taking 90 proof Jim Beam Bourbon and extracting spirit absorbed into the wood of the barrels itself and blending them together. The result is a punchy oak-fest of a Bourbon...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$39.98
Maker's Mark
(70cl, 45%)
Maker’s Mark maintain that they distil their bourbon to the lowest proof of any US whiskey distillery. This proffers a bourbon that retains a rich flavour. Developed by Bill Samuels Sr, he replaced...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$40.02
This handmade 12 year old Johnny Drum has been made by a method that has remained unchanged for 5 generations of master distillers.  More info
$40.35
The Small Batch bottling is one of the select few releases from Four Roses. This edition was given a Five Stars in 2007 by Spirit Journal as well as a Silver Medal at the 2007 International Spirits...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$42.11
Wild Turkey 101
(70cl, 50.50%)
This bottling of Wild Turkey has been aged for 8 years before coming out of the barrel at 109 proof, it is only diluted slightly before bottling at 101 proof with plenty of pep.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$42.36
Bulleit Bourbon - 45%
(70cl, 45%)
Enjoy Bulleit Bourbon like the Americans do! Previously it has been bottled at 40% abv for the UK market, but now you can get the Frontier Whiskey at 45% abv, just like they have in Kentucky. A...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (5.0/5)
$43.77
Knob Creek 9 Year Old
(70cl, 50%)
Knob Creek is a small batch bourbon produced by Jim Beam, distilled in a more traditional style and aged 9 nine years. It is named for the area in Kentucky where Abraham Lincoln grew up, it is said...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$44.73
The mashbill for Woodford Reserve features a high percentage of rye: 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malt. Unusual also for being triple distilled and having the lowest proof upon entering the barrel where...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.5/5)
$46.09
Fighting Cock 6 Year Old
(70cl, 51.50%)
Bottled at 103 proof (or 51.5% if you are a fellow Limey), this higher strength proffers a far more punchy character. Fighting Cock is a Kentucky bourbon aged for 6 years.  More info
User Rating:  Rating (3.5/5)
$47.03
Stetson Bourbon
(70cl, 42%)
Named for John B Stetson and originally launched for the German market, this bourbon honours the chap who invented a stalwart in my "top 7 hats" list, recently knocked off the number 3 spot by the...  More info
$47.35
Elijah Craig was named for a reverend who lived in Virginia. He kept a warehouse where he stored barrels and one day experienced a devastating fire. He used the charred casks regardless and found they...  More info
User Rating:  Rating (4.0/5)
$48.49
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