Basic things you need to know about Bourbon
Want to be a Bourbon connoisseur? Food and Wine listed some tips to get you started with the complicated liquor that is Bourbon.
Here’s what you need to know from the technicalities of it all down to age and barrel and proofing.
First, Bourbon has to be made from a combination of grains that is at least 51 percent corn.
As a rule, it should be aged in new charred-oak barrels, distilled to no more than 80 percent ABV. When the raw spirit is pumped into the barrels for aging, it must be no more than 62.5 percent ABV. Later, when it is bottled, bourbon has to be at least 40 percent ABV.
The cask where the Bourbon is stored while fermenting also makes a lot of difference. Cask strengths vary greatly from barrel to barrel, due both to warehouse placement and weather conditions. As such, the strength of a bourbon depends primarily on how much it evaporates while aging. The more alcohol evaporates the lower the proof.
For a Bourbon to be labeled straight, it must at least be two years old. However, if it’s younger than four years, the bottle must carry an age statement that reflects the youngest bourbon in the bottle. Additionally, straight bourbon cannot contain any added colors or flavors.
However, some bourbon might have richer, spicier flavor than others. This is when Rye is used and the second main ingredient. Sweeter flavor, wheat is the second ingredient of choice. For a slight hint of sourness, a sour mash is being used by adding a portion of previously used mash to a fresh batch, similar to using a sourdough starter for bread.