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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 Whisky Vintages

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A Blanton's Original Single Barrel, taken from barrel 330 matured in their famous Warehouse H.
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We believe this bottle of Beam's Black Label 101, was bottled in 1983. Back then, the labels of Beam's Black Label proudly proclaimed that the wonderful sour mash Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey was...  More info
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This collectible 1960s bottling of Beam's Choice 8 Year Old bourbon, is presented in a decanter featuring Frans Hals' "Boy Holding A Flute". The boy seems to be holding his hand up for a high-five -...  More info
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Beam's Choice bourbon, presented in a very handsome (and very blue) decanter, which we believe to have been produced in 1966. It looks rather futuristic for something produced almost 4 decades ago...  More info
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A classic in every sense of the word, Evan Williams White Label Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is a favourite of the back-bar around the world. Bottled at a higher ABV than the regular Evan...  More info
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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
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From Smooth Ambler's Old Scout Range comes a very exciting single barrel straight bourbon whiskey - marvel at its glory! For their single barrel releases, the Smooth Ambler chaps out in West Virginia...  More info
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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
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Just looking at this gorgeous antique bottle of Old Quaker Bourbon from the 1950s makes me want a big bowl of porridge, but I'm not sure why. Never mind. This old American brand was once owned by...  More info
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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
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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
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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
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Baker's 7 Year Old
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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
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Although Evan Williams White Label is now their 'Bottled in Bond' bourbon, when this bottle was produced in the 1980s, their white label was reserved for bourbon aged for 8 years.  More info
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A vintage bottle of Medley's Kentucky Bourbon from the 1970s. Rare, collectible and patriotic.  More info
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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
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A 1980s bottling of Jim Beam White, that comes in its original box. It's in amazing condition and looks very drinkable. Best enjoyed watching the A-Team; it'll take your mind off wondering how they...  More info
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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
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12 year old sour mash bourbon whiskey from the Old Fitzgerald brand, currently owned by Heaven Hill. Lots of corn, caramel and spice behind this one - lovely stuff.  More info
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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
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