“Drink like an adult and enjoy every moment of life!” by: Fred

The Drink: Bourbon
The Place: Your Home or Bar
The Creator: Fred Mastison

By: Fred Mastison

The term Whiskey has held a special place in our psyche ever since the first gunslinger walked into a saloon and hammered back a shot of the amber elixir. Whiskey is much older than our association with the spur sporting cowboys though and reaches back to the 1200’s.  There are countless types of whiskey as well (see my earlier article on Scotch…it is probably in the Library of Congress by now).  The type of whiskey I want to pontificate about today is bourbon.

 

Bourbon is a class or type of whiskey with its’ own special classifications.  In fact the government has stepped in and provided us with an official definition!  For anything to be called bourbon whiskey it must abide by a Congressional resolution penned in 1964.  It states that bourbon is “America’s native sprit.”  It goes on to set qualifications.

 

Bourbon must be domestically made from a fermented mash of grains of not less than 51 percent corn that is distilled at not more than 160 proof. It must then be barreled in new, charred oak barrels at no more than 125 proof before being bottled at no less than 80 proof.  To be qualified as “straight bourbon” it must have been aged for at least two years. There are more details but I trust your ability to use google so I will forgo the inclusion of said rules.

 

The center of gravity for bourbon is the great state of Kentucky.  The bluegrass state produces 95% of the world’s supply of whisky.  This translates into a $3 billion dollar industry which produced 1.2 trillion barrels of happiness in 2013. Kentucky and the US are king of the hill and there is no sign of that ever changing.

 

Let’s end the technical side of the tour now and get down to business; how and what to drink.  Bourbon is a flexible spirit and is as at home in mixed drinks as it is straight up.  The term “Jack and Coke” is as American as it gets and every bartender on Earth knows the call.  The mixes can be much more exotic though and include orange juice, soda and even a touch of a liqueur in some cases.  Experimentation is highly encouraged.  As a fan of enjoying whiskey in its’ natural state I am drawn to those that require no window dressings.  While they can be a good building block for an exotic cocktail, they are quite delicious all by themselves.  With that, we will look at a few suggestions for bourbon that can be enjoyed neat.

 

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve 9 YO

Deep and complex flavors of vanilla, nuts and oak, the finish is long and full; perfect for easygoing sipping

 

Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

Flavors ranging across spices, vanilla, honey, butterscotch and some dried fruit as well; long, creamy finish with vanilla in at the finale.

 

1792 Ridgemont Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

Flavors across the scale with rich vanilla, spicy oak, vanilla, rye, corn then some honey and mint; super balanced and a fine finish.

 

Jim Beam Black Bourbon Whiskey 8 YO

“Bold, rye on the nose with brown sugar and rich honey; caramel and butterscotch follow. Big, rich and full bodied in the mouth with toffee, gentle vanilla and some molasses giving sensation of slow, deliberate flow across the palate. Sweet oak does a good supporting job; lovely, warming swallow. A delicious experience.

 

Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon 10 YO Whiskey

“Nose opens with the most inviting charred and caramelized oak and orange zest and loads of vanilla, old leather and ripe summer fruits. The palate is vanilla dominated to start then becomes more complex with almonds, chocolate, old leather and a hint of mint plus all the ripe summer fruits. Long, spicy finish where crème brûlée plays a part. Delicious whiskey.”

 

Jim Beam Signature Craft Bourbon Whiskey 12 YO

“Very expressive nose with ripe cherries, fruit cake and liquorice leading followed by vanilla and cinnamon. Great intensity in the mouth with slow deliberate movement across the palate depositing flavors of dried dates, dark brown sugar and treacle. Great texture and super balance. Concentration of flavors leads into everlasting finish.”

 

The great thing about bourbon is that you can try a spectrum of makes without breaking the bank.  While it is true that some bourbon can be pricy, a majority of it is affordable.  So, on that note you are now challenged to expand your palate.  Ditch the ol’ stand by and venture out into the interesting world of bourbon.  Until next time, drink like an adult and enjoy every moment of life!

 

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Erik Merkow
Founder and CEO at Az Food & Wine
Erik: a father, writer, son, photographer, corporate guy, friend, brother, and foodie wine guy



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