25 September 2009

Friday Top 5

Did you know that September is National Bourbon Heritage Month? (OK, really it was just September 2007 according to Congress, but I see that as no impediment to honoring it as such EVERY year.) And although the month is nearly over, there's still time to celebrate. Top 5 Fun Facts About Bourbon:
  1. Bourbon is, of course, named for Bourbon County in Kentucky. Bourbon County is a wet county, although the majority of counties in Kentucky are dry.
  2. In order for a whiskey to be classified as bourbon, its mash must (by US law) be made of at least 51% corn, which is part of what provides its distinctive sweet notes.
  3. Bourbon distillers only get one shot - bourbon must, by law, be distilled to 160 proof and can have no additives after distilling and aging other than water, which is used to adjust the proof. Whiskeys like Jack Daniels can only be called "bourbon-style" not because of where they're made (bourbon, unlike champagne and tequila, is defined by the process of distillation, not the location), but because they do include additives.
  4. Typical proofs for bourbon at bottling run around 80-100, although George T. Stagg bourbon, distilled at Buffalo Trace, can run over 140 proof at bottling. Its nickname? HazMat (because it's illegal to transport on airplanes due to its high alcohol content and concurrent high flammability). The alcohol that evaporates during distilling creating proof levels is called the angel's share.
  5. Many people know that scotch and bourbon are closely related spirits. But did you know how close? Law dictates that bourbon must be aged in NEW oak barrels. Where do all those barrels go, once they've served their single term in bourbon distilleries? Many go over to the UK, where they are re-used in the scotch aging process.
Get out there this weekend and raise a bourbon cocktail in honor of our national spirit!

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