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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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Popular Bourbon Whiskey Vintages

Smooth Ambler Distillery
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The Single Barrel Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey releases from Evan Williams are always a treat. They're well made, aged for around 9 years and offer great value for money. Ace. This is the 2004...  More info
User Rating:  (3 Reviews)
$52.01
American Prairie Reserve is named after the impressive 5,000 square mile wildlife reserve in northeastern Montana, the largest in the lower 48 states. High West are also donating 10% of post tax...  More info
$67.34
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
$39.38
Michter's US*1 Bourbon
(70cl, 45.70%)
The US*1 Bourbon from Michter's Distiller in Louisville, Kentucky, is made in small batches, typically comprised of no more than two dozen barrels. Top quality stuff, brimming with caramel, vanilla...  More info
$79.21
It's finally here - the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. This expression begins life being aged in the same way as the classic Woodford Reserve, but following this, it...  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)
$73.81
Evan Williams 1783
(70cl, 43%)
A superb Kentucky straight bourbon from Evan Williams, produced in small batches. The 1783 expression is named after the year that Evan Williams set up his distillery on the banks of the Ohio River.  More info
$49.01
A barrel proof bottling of hugely flavoursome 12 year old Elijah Craig Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Sitting at a sturdy 67.4% ABV, it's an intense bourbon, so perhaps a drop or two of water...  More info
$115.37
An old bottling of Old Crow Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Or 'Old, Old Crow', if you will. If you won't, then let's just agree to call it 'Olden Days Old Crow' and be done with it. If you won't accept...  More info
$184.72
A 1970s bottling of classic Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Old Lewis Hunter. Guaranteed 6 years old.  More info
$277.08
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
$46.16
In the year 1792, Kentucky became a state. 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is named after that wonderful year. It's a spicy, rye-rich bourbon which is just asking to be...  More info
User Rating:  (2 Reviews)
$89.48
A straight American bourbon whiskey from the Redemption range, featuring a rather high rye content and aged over 3 years. Take a look at the mash bill proudly displayed on the bottle and you'll see...  More info
User Rating:  (2 Reviews)
$57.52
Part of the Old Scout range from Smooth Ambler, this 10 year old bourbon is rye-rich, well-aged and an absolute treat for long, sunny evenings. Bottled at 50% ABV, you can bet your bottom dollar this...  More info
$92.28
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:  (3 Reviews)
$35.16
The Pepper name goes way back in terms of bourbon production, back to 1776. Even James E. Pepper nick-named the whiskey 'Old 1776'. However, in the latter half of the 1900s, the James E. Pepper name...  More info
$69.96
A rare bourbon from The Bourbon de Luxe Distillery Company, based in Frankfort. This spirit was bottled at some time during the 1970s…

Already sold out? Not to worry, we have plenty more Antique...  More info
$277.08
From the Roughstock distillery in Montana - the Land of Shining Mountains - comes a straight bourbon whiskey, made with a blend of four in-house bourbon recipes.  More info
$74.49
This is an 8 year old 101 proof (50.5% abv) bottling of Wild Turkey - the legendary bourbon from Austin Nichols. This is a rare 1970s bottling.

Already sold out? Not to worry, we have plenty more...  More info
$277.08
Basil Hayden's Bourbon dates back to 1796, when master distiller Basil Hayden used a traditional corn base, but mixed in small grains with the mash. A Kentucky straight bourbon with plenty of rye at...  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)
$76.18
A huge 175cl bottle of Jim Beam's 4 year old White Label. It's got a jug handle! In fact it's almost as big as mobile phone from the same era. Slick back your hair and take the plunge; it's in great...  More info
User Rating:  (3 Reviews)
$461.79
This Wild Turkey 101 Proof (50.5% abv), aged for 8 years, offers a window into the past. It is bourbon from nearly four decades ago!  More info
$277.08
Dating from the 1960s, this is a huge US half gallon bottle (about 1.9 litres) of Stillbrook straight bourbon whiskey. It was distilled and bottled in Pekin, Illinois and aged for 4 years.  More info
$692.69
Baker's 7 Year Old
(70cl, 53.50%)
An excellent small batch bourbon, named for the grand nephew of Jim Beam, Baker Beam. This is a well-aged expression which makes use of a special strain of jug yeast which the Beam family have made...  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)
$69.81
A bottle of Jim Beam White Label, produced in 1979, the same year as the classic 'Life of Brian'. The label is a tiny bit torn in places, but look on the bright side of life and you'll see that this...  More info
$147.77
A large 1970s bottle of Jim Beam White Label Bourbon, which is aged for four years before it's bottled. Unfortunately, while this bottle is bigger than your average one, they didn't actually put its...  More info
$221.66
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