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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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A limited release, small batch artisan bourbon. This is very unusual, and offers a thoroughly distinctive flavour profile, thanks to its 6 to 10 year ageing in very lightly charred (Number 1 char)...  More info
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The bigger, higher proof brother to the standard (and also excellent Jefferson's), Jefferson's Reserve is a well-aged, medium bodied bourbon. The previous edition was labelled as a 15 year old, also...  More info
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Kentucky Gentleman
(70cl, 40%)
A long-running brand, Kentucky Gentleman is a simple value-for-money bourbon with handsomely retro packaging. Evidently, the name dates back to 1879 - over 100 years ago!  More info
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
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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
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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
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Stunning cask strength Kentucky straight bourbon from the Booker's True Barrel series - a fantastic line from the Jim Beam range named after the one and only Booker Noe. This one has been bottled at 7...  More info
The Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project was a fascinating undertaking from the Kentucky distillers which investigated the variables of bourbon production. This includes details about the cask, including...  More info
All the way from the FEW Spirits craft distillery out in Evanston, Illinois, here's a cracking cask strength Bourbon Whiskey, ready to impart awe into every American whiskey fan's consciousness...  More info
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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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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
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Maker's Mark
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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
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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
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A bourbon of two sides from Smooth Ambler. Their Contradiction Bourbon is made with a blends of two whiskeys - one is a rather young wheated bourbon distilled by Smooth Ambler themselves, the other is...  More info
Single barrel bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery in a new 70cl bottle. This stuff is great and good value for money too.  More info
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This bottling of Wild Turkey has been aged for at least 6 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
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ATOM Supplies Ltd trading as Master of Malt. Registered office: North House, 198 High Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1BE. Registered in England & Wales. Company number 3193057, VAT number GB 662241553.