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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

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Jim Beam Green Label
(70cl, 40%)
Jim Beam Green Label is aged for five years then filtered through charcoal, which gives it a remarkably smooth flavour. It's great for bourbon cocktails, and is one of our favourite Beams.  More info
User Rating:  (2 Reviews)
$41.02
The Jim Beam Signature Craft is the Kentucky distillery's small batch range of bourbons, including this 12 year old expression. The 12 years in the barrel seems to have been just the right amount of...  More info
User Rating:  (3 Reviews)
$54.43
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:  (49 Reviews)
$27.08
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
$225.54
Jim Beam White Label sour mash Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, produced all the way back in the 1970s. Jim Beam boffins would surely love this collectible piece.  More info
$225.54
This is a bottle of Jim Beam White Label, which we think was produced in 1978. A collectible antique for whiskey lovers, though unfortunately this bottle looks to have suffered at the hands of time...  More info
$150.36
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
$150.36
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)
$469.88
The famous bourbon brand Old Fitzgerald was named for John E. Fitzgerald, who according to a family biography of Pappy Van Winkle may have been a rather more colourful character than we...  More info
User Rating:  (2 Reviews)
$72.81
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
$40.06
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
$36.62
A cask strength bourbon, this is the flagship bourbon from the Johnny Drum range of handmade bourbons, produced in small batches. (Previously a 15 year old.)  More info
User Rating:  (4 Reviews)
$62.40
Remarkably great value well-aged straight Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Previously a 15 year old, Johnny Drum Private Stock is made in small batches and is hugely satisfying.

This is a 75cl bottling.  More info
$63.04
This is an ancient bottle of Kentucky Boat Bourbon Whiskey, produced over 30 years ago in the 1970s. Is the name (and the wonderful label) a reference to how bourbon used to be transported from...  More info
$187.95
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:  (23 Reviews)
$46.91
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:  (45 Reviews)
$39.02
Maker's Mark - 1990s
(70cl, 45%)
Good old Maker's Mark from the 1990s, made with red winter wheat rather than rye.  More info
$112.77
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
$80.60
One of them there Traveller bottles of Old Crow 6 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which we believe to have been produced in the 1960s. Awesome stuff.  More info
$281.93
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
$187.95
An interestingly shaped Traveler bottle of Old Crow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which we believe was produced in the 1960s. Highly sought after by collectors.  More info
$281.93
A 1970s bottling of Old Crow Traveler Kentucky Straight Bourbon, produced for the Italian market. A rare, old example of "The Original Sour Mash".  More info
$225.54
Old Grand-Dad
(70cl, 40%)
Traditional bourbon from one of the oldest whiskey brands around, now bottled at the lower abv of 40%.  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)
$40.33
A 1970s bottling of classic Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Old Lewis Hunter. Guaranteed 6 years old.  More info
$281.93
Old Weller Antique
(75cl, 53.50%)
Old Weller Antique is a gorgeous, excellent value wheated bourbon from the Buffalo Trace-owned William Larue Weller range, presented at 53.5% ABV. Plenty of oak-y character supported by...  More info
User Rating:  (1 Review)
$51.50
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