JiggerWocky: adventures in alcohol and academics

JiggerWocky: adventures in alcohol and academics

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bourbon Season!

I know, it's not even Halloween and I should be posting more Absinthe recipes, which I'm sure to do, but it's cold here in Vegas and I'm way too excited about bourbon. Also, I found this great background to share:

First, bourbon can be produced anywhere in the United States. A lot of folks assume bourbon must be produced in Kentucky and more specifically Bourbon County. In fact, there are currently no distilleries in Bourbon County.

Second, bourbon must contain a minimum 51% corn in the mashbill, but it could be as much as 80%. The mashbill is your basic recipe of grains which are used to create the spirit. Distilleries use varying recipes for their mashbill and these are closely guarded secrets. The remaining ratio of the mashbill could be barley, wheat or rye.

A bourbon with a high wheat content in mashbill is generally referred to as a “wheated” bourbon and a prime example of this is Maker’s Mark bourbon. The bourbons with a higher wheat ratio is generally sweeter and more mellow than other styles of bourbon.
A bourbon with a high rye content in the mashbill is generally referred to as a “high rye” bourbon and a prime example is Bulleit bourbon. As you may guess, a high rye bourbon is a little spicier and bolder than other styles of bourbon.

Third, bourbon must be aged in brand new American white oak charred barrels. The barrels are not reused after the aging process. Most bourbon distilleries sell their used barrels to scotch, rum, and other spirit producers. One of my favorite sayings is that the best thing about scotch is the small amount of bourbon coming from the used barrels. Once the raw spirit is put in the new charred barrels, it must be aged for a minimum of two years. The charring of the barrels provides much of the flavor and color to bourbon.

So how should you enjoy this wonderful spirit? When trying a new bourbon, I always suggest having it straight or with ice. Simple, elegant and allows you to appreciate flavors of the bourbon. Of course, a cocktail is always welcome too!

Bourbon Old Fashioned:
2oz bourbon of your choice (I prefer Bulleit)
3 dashes aromatic bitters (Angostura is traditional, but feel free to experiment with others, like Mole)
1 bar spoon simple syrup
lemon peel for garnish
Place bourbon, bitters and syrup in an old fashioned glass and stir. Add ice and stir again. Garnish with lemon peel. Alternatively you could stir all ingredients with ice and strain.
Serve in an old-fashion glass, a low-ball if you're Don Draper.

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