The World Of Whiskey According to Wikipedia

May 31st, 2011 | Comments Off on The World Of Whiskey According to Wikipedia

Whiskey

“Whisky or whiskey is a type of alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Whisky is aged in wooden casks, made generally of white oak, except that in the United States corn whiskey need not be aged.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many competing denominations of origin and many classes and types. The unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation to less than 95% alcohol, and aging in wood.

Etymology:

Whisky is a shortened form of usquebaugh, which English borrowed from Gaelic (Irish uisce beatha and Scottish uisge beatha). This compound descends from Old Irish uisce, “water”, and bethad, “of life” and meaning literally “water of life”. It meant the same thing as the Latin aqua vītae which had been applied to distilled drinks since early 14th century. Other early spellings include usquebea (1706) and iskie bae (1583). In the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise in 1405, the first written record of whiskey appears describing the death of a chieftain at Christmas from “taking a surfeit of aqua vitae“. In Scotland, the first evidence of whisky production comes from an entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1494 where malt is sent “To Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aquavitae“.

History:

The art of distillation began with the Babylonians in Mesopotamia (in what is now Iraq) from at least the 2nd millennium BC, with perfumes and aromatics being distilled long before potable spirits. It is possible that the art of distillation was brought from the Mediterranean regions to Ireland by Irish missionaries between the 6th century and 7th century. Distillation was brought from Africa to Europe by the Moors, and its use spread through the monasteries,  largely for medicinal purposes, such as the treatment of colic, palsy, and smallpox.

Between 1100 and 1300, distillation spread to Ireland and Scotland, with monastic distilleries existing in Ireland in the 12th century. Since Britain had few grapes with which to make wine, barley beer was used instead, resulting in the development of whisky.  In 1494, as noted above, Scotland’s Exchequer granted the malt to Friar John Cor; this was enough malt to make about 1500 bottles, so the business was apparently thriving by that time.

King James IV of Scotland (r. 1488-1513) reportedly had a great liking for Scotch whisky, and in 1506 the town of Dundee purchased a large amount of Scotch from the Guild of Surgeon Barbers, which held the monopoly on production at the time. Between 1536 and 1541, King Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries, sending their monks out into the general public. Whisky production moved out of a monastic setting and into personal homes and farms as newly-independent monks needed to find a way to earn money for themselves.

The distillation process at the time was still in its infancy; whisky itself was imbibed at a very young age, and as a result tasted very raw and brutal compared to today’s versions. Renaissance-era whisky was also very potent and not diluted, and could even be dangerous at times. Over time, and with the happy accident of someone daring to drink from a cask which had been forgotten for several years, whisky evolved into a much smoother drink. In 1707, the Acts of Union merged England and Scotland, and thereafter taxes on it rose dramatically.[8]

An Irish or Scottish man pours some whisky into a flask in this 1869 oil painting by Erskine Nicol.

After the English Malt Tax of 1725, most of Scotland’s distillation was either shut down or forced underground. Scotch whisky was hidden under altars, in coffins, and in any available space to avoid the governmental Excisemen.  Scottish distillers, operating out of homemade stills, took to distilling their whisky at night, where the darkness would hide the smoke rising from the stills. For this reason, the drink was known as moonshine.  At one point, it was estimated that over half of Scotland’s whisky output was illegal.

In America, whisky was used as currency during the American Revolution. It also was a highly coveted sundry and when an additional excise tax was levied against it, the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion took place.[7]

In 1823, the UK passed the Excise Act, legalising the distillation (for a fee), and this put a practical end to the large-scale production of Scottish moonshine.[

In 1831, Aeneas Coffey invented the Coffey still, allowing for cheaper and more efficient distillation of whisky. In 1850, Andrew Usher mixed traditional whisky with that from the new Coffey still, and in doing so created the first Scottish blended whisky. This new grain whisky was scoffed at by Irish distillers, who clung to their malt whisky. Many Irish contended that the new mixture was, in fact, not whisky at all.[3]

By the 1880s, the French brandy industry was devastated by the phylloxera pest that ruined much of the grape crop; as a result, whisky became the primary liquor in many markets. Types:

Copper Pot stills at Auchentoshan Distillery in Scotland

Whisky or whisky-like products are produced in most grain-growing areas. They differ in base product, alcoholic content, and quality.

Copper Pot stills at Auchentoshan Distillery in Scotland

Malted barley is an ingredient of some whiskies.

  • Malt is whisky made entirely from malted barley and distilled in an onion-shaped pot still.
  • Grain is made from malted and unmalted barley along with other grains, usually in a continuous “patent” or “Coffey” still. Until recently it was only used in blends, but there are now some single grain scotches being marketed.

Malts and grains are combined in various ways

  • Vatted malt is blended from malt whiskies from different distilleries. If a whisky is labelled “pure malt” or just “malt” it is almost certain to be a vatted whisky. This is also sometimes labelled as “blended malt” whisky.
  • Single malt whisky is malt whisky from a single distillery. However, unless the whisky is described as “single-cask” it will contain whisky from many casks, and different years, so the blender can achieve a taste recognisable as typical of the distillery. In most cases, the name of a single malt will be that of the distillery (The Glenlivet, Bushmills, Yoichi), with an age statement and perhaps some indication of some special treatments such as maturation in a port wine cask.
  • Pure pot still whiskey refers to a whiskey distilled in a pot-still (like single malt) from a mash of mixed malted and unmalted barley. It is exclusive to Ireland.
  • Malted barley is an ingredient of some whiskies.

    Malted barley is an ingredient of some whiskies.

    Blended whiskies are made from a mixture of malt and grain whiskies. A whisky simply described as Scotch Whisky or Irish Whiskey is most likely to be a blend in this sense. A blend is usually from many distilleries so that the blender can produce a flavour consistent with the brand, and the brand name (e.g., Chivas Regal, Canadian Club) will usually not therefore contain the name of a distillery. Jameson Irish Whiskey is an exception and comes from only one distillery. However, “blend” can (less frequently) have other meanings. A mixture of malts (with no grain) from different distilleries (more usually called a vatted malt) may sometimes be referred to as a “blended malt”, and a mixture of grain whiskies with no malts will sometimes carry the designation “blended grain”.

  • Cask strength whiskies are rare and usually only the very best whiskies are bottled in this way. They are usually bottled from the cask undiluted. Rather than diluting, the distiller is inviting the drinker to dilute to the level of potency most palatable (often no dilution is necessary, such is the quality of single cask whiskies). Single cask whiskies are usually bottled by specialist independent bottlers, such as Duncan Taylor, Master of Malt, Gordon & MacPhail and Cadenhead amongst others.

Whiskies do not mature in the bottle, only in the cask, so the “age” of a whisky is the time between distillation and bottling. This reflects how much the cask has interacted with the whisky, changing its chemical makeup and taste. Whiskies which have been in bottle for many years may have a rarity value, but are not “older” and will not necessarily be “better” than a more recently made whisky matured in wood for a similar time. Most whiskies are sold at or near an alcoholic strength of 40% abv.

American whiskeys:

American whiskey is distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grain. It must have the taste, aroma, and other characteristics commonly attributed to whiskey.

The types listed in the federal regulations are:

  • Bourbon whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% corn (maize).
  • Rye whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% rye.
  • Wheat whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% wheat.
  • Malt whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% malted barley.
  • Rye malt whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% malted rye.
  • Corn whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 80% corn (maize).

These “named types” of American whiskey must be distilled to not more than 80 percent alcohol by volume. They must then be aged in charred new oak containers, except for corn whiskey. Corn whiskey does not have to be aged but, if it is aged, it must be in new un-charred oak barrels or used barrels. The ageing for corn whiskey usually is brief, e.g., six months.

If the aging for a “named type” reaches 2 years or beyond, the whiskey is then additionally designated “straight” e.g., “straight rye whiskey”. “Straight whiskey” (without naming a grain) is a whiskey which has been aged in charred new oak containers for 2 years or more and distilled at not more than 80 percent alcohol by volume but is derived from less than 51% of any one grain.

American blended whiskeys combine straight whiskey with grain neutral spirits (GNS), flavourings and colourings. The percentage of GNS must be disclosed on the label and may be as much at 80% on a proof gallon basis. Blended whiskey has the same alcohol content as straight whiskey but a much milder flavour.

Important in the marketplace is Tennessee whiskey, of which Jack Daniel’s is the leading example. During production it is identical to bourbon whiskey in almost every important respect including the sour mash process. The only differences is that Tennessee whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal, which is claimed to remove some unpleasant flavours and odours and produce a cleaner spirit. Though not defined by Federal regulations, the Government of the United States officially recognized Tennessee whiskey as a separate style distinct from bourbon in 1941.

Templeton Rye Whisky(Templeton, Iowa)

The United States was recovering from World War I, and many farmers needed additional income to support their families and farm payments. In response to this need for revenue, a group of farmers in a small town of Templeton, Iowa began to brew and distil their own form of rye whiskey, which they named Templeton Rye. Word of the single barrel malt Templeton Rye quickly spread and eventually caught the attention of the Capone gang, who began bootlegging hundreds of kegs of Templeton Rye per month and distributing it to speakeasies throughout New York, Chicago and as far west as Denver. Legend has it that Capone even orchestrated getting Templeton Rye smuggled to him while incarcerated in Alcatraz.

Australian whiskeys:

Australia produces a number of single malt whiskies. The whiskies being produced on the island State of Tasmania in particular are receiving global attention.

Australian whiskies are winning an increasing number of global whisky awards and medals, including for example the World Whiskies Awards and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible ‘Liquid Gold Awards’.

Australian distilleries include: Bakery Hill, Hellyers Road, Lark, Limeburners, Nant, Small Concern (no longer operating), Smith’s (no longer operating) and Sullivan’s Cove.

Canadian whiskeys:

Various Canadian whiskeys

 

Canadian whiskies are usually lighter and smoother than other whisky styles. Another common characteristic of many Canadian whiskies is their use of rye that has been malted, which provides a fuller flavour and smoothness. By Canadian law,[11] Canadian whiskies must be produced in Canada, be distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grain, “be aged in small wood for not less than 3 years”, and “possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky”. The terms “Canadian Whisky”, “Canadian Rye Whisky” and “Rye Whisky” are legally indistinguishable in Canada and do not denote any particular proportion of rye or other grain used in production.

Finnish whiskeys:

There are two working distilleries in Finland and a third one is under construction. Whisky retail sales in Finland are controlled solely by the state alcohol monopoly Alko and advertisement of strong alcoholic beverages is banned.

German whiskeys:

The distillation of German-made whisky is a relatively recent phenomenon having only started in the last 30 years. The styles produced resemble those made in Ireland, Scotland and the United States: single malts, blends, and bourbon styles. There is no standard spelling of German whiskies with distilleries using both “whisky” and “whiskey” and one even using “whessky”, a play on the word whisky and Hessen, the state in which it is produced. There are currently ten distilleries in Germany producing whisky.

Indian whiskeys:

Indian whisky is an alcoholic beverage that is labelled as “whisky” in India. Much Indian whisky is distilled from fermented molasses, and as such would be considered a sort of rum outside of the Indian subcontinent. 90% of the “whisky” consumed in India is molasses based, although India has begun to distill whisky from malt and other grains.[15]

Kasauli Distillery is set in the Himalaya mountains and opened in the late 1820s. The main whisky brand is a single malt named “Solan No. 1”. This was named after the town nearby called Solan. It was the best selling Indian whisky till recently, but has declined since the early 1980s because of the stiff competition from the larger distilleries. Other whiskies this distillery produces are Diplomat Deluxe, Colonel’s Special, Black Knight and Summer Hall.

Irish whiskeys:

Most Irish whiskeys are distilled three times. Though traditionally distilled using pot stills, column still are now used to produce grain whiskey for blends. By law, Irish whiskey must be produced in Ireland and aged in wooden casks for a period of no less than three years, although in practice it is usually three or four times that period.[18] Unpeated malt is almost always used, the main exception being Connemara Peated Malt whiskey.

There are several types of whiskey common to Ireland: single malt, single grain, blended whiskey and uniquely to Ireland, pure pot still whiskey. The designation “pure pot still” as used in Ireland generally refers to whiskey made of 100% barley, mixed malted and unmalted, and distilled in a pot still made of copper. The “green” unmalted barley gives the traditional pure pot still whiskey a spicy, uniquely Irish quality. Like single malt, pure pot still is sold as such or blended with grain whiskey. Usually no real distinction is made between whether a blended whiskey was made from single malt or pure pot still.

Japanese Whiskeys:

The model for Japanese whiskeys is the single malt Scotch, although there are also examples of Japanese blended whiskies. The base is a mash of malted barley, dried in kilns fired with a little peat (although considerably less than in Scotland), and distilled using the pot still method. For some time exports of Japanese whisky suffered from the belief in the West that whisky made in the Scotch style, but not produced in Scotland, was inferior, and until fairly recently, the market for Japanese whiskies was almost entirely domestic. In recent years, Japanese whiskies have won prestigious international awards and now enjoy a reputation as a quality product.

Scotch whiskeys:

Scotch whiskeys are generally distilled twice, though some are distilled a third time. International laws require anything bearing the label “Scotch” to be distilled in Scotland and matured for a minimum of three years and one day in oak casks, among other, more specific criteria. If Scotch whisky is from more than one cask, and if it includes an age statement on the bottle, it must reflect the age of the youngest whisky in the blend. Many cask-strength single malts omit the age as they use younger elements in minute amounts for flavouring and mellowing. The basic types of Scotch are malt and grain, which are combined to create blends. Many, though not all, Scotch whiskies use peat smoke to treat their malt, giving Scotch its distinctive smoky flavour. While the market is dominated by blends, the most highly prized of Scotch whiskies are the single malts. Scotch whiskies are divided into five main regions: Highland, Lowland, Islay, Speyside and Campbeltown.

Welsh Whiskeys:

In 2000, Penderyn Distillery started production of the Penderyn single malt Welsh whisky in Wales, the first Welsh whisky since all production ended in 1894. The first bottles went on sale on 1 March 2004, Saint David’s Day, and the whisky is now sold throughout the world. Penderyn Distillery is situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park and is considered the smallest distillery in the world.

Other Whiskeys:

In Brittany, France, five distilleries (Distillerie des Menhirs,[24] Guillon,[25] Glann ar Mor,[26] Kaerilis[27] and Warenghem[28]) produce whisky using techniques similar to those in Scotland.

One whisky is produced on the French island of Corsica: Pietra & Mavella (P&M) is a coproduction of the brewery Pietra and the distillery Mavella. The mash is enriched with chestnut flour. P&M is matured in muscat casks (Domaine Gentile).[29][not in citation given]

Manx Spirit from the Isle of Man is, like some Virginia whiskeys in the USA, distilled elsewhere and re-distilled in the country of its nominal “origin”.

In Spain there is a distillery named DYC, started in 1948.

In Sweden a new distillery (Mackmyra), started selling its products in 2006.

Recently at least two distilleries in the traditionally brandy-producing Caucasus region announced their plans to enter the Russian domestic market with whiskies. The Stavropol-based Praskoveysky distillery bases its product on Irish technology, while in Kizlyar, Dagestan‘s “Russian Whisky” announced a Scotch-inspired drink in single malt, blended and wheat varieties.

In Taiwan, the King Car company built a whisky distillery in the city of Yilan, and has recently begun marketing Kavalan Single Malt Whisky.

Production of whisky started in Norfolk, England in late 2006 and the first whisky (as opposed to malt spirit) was made available to the public in November 2009. This is the first English single malt in over 100 years. It was produced at St George’s Distillery by the English Whisky Company.  Previously Bristol and Liverpool were centres of English whisky production. East Anglia is a source of much of the grain used in Scotch whisky.

Names and spellings:

The word “whisky” is believed to have been coined by soldiers of King Henry II who invaded Ireland in the 12th century as they struggled to pronounce the native Irish words uisce beatha [ɪʃkʲə bʲahə], meaning “water of life”. Over time, the pronunciation changed from “whishkeyba” (an approximation of how the Irish term sounds) to “whisky”. The name itself is a Gaelic calque of the Latin phrase aqua vitae, meaning “water of life”.

Much is made of the word’s two spellings, whisky and whiskey. Today, the spelling whisky (plural whiskies) is generally used for whiskies distilled in Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Japan, while whiskey (plural whiskeys) is used for the whiskeys distilled in Ireland and the United States. However, several prominent American brands, such as Maker’s Mark and George Dickel, use the ‘whisky’ spelling. When writing generally about this type of spirit, either spelling is correct.

“Scotch” is the internationally recognized term for “Scotch whisky” however it is rarely used in Scotland, where the drink is called ‘whisky.’

In many Latin-American countries, whisky (wee-skee) is used as a photographer’s cue to smile, supplanting English “cheese”. The Uruguayan film Whisky got its name because of this.

Chemistry:

Whiskeys and other distilled beverages such as cognac and rum are complex beverages containing a vast range of flavouring compounds, of which some 200 to 300 can be easily detected by chemical analysis. The flavoring chemicals include “carbonyl compounds, alcohols, carboxylic acids and their esters, nitrogen- and sulfur-containing compounds, tannins and other polyphenolic compounds, terpenes, and oxygen-containing heterocyclic compounds” and esters of fatty acids.  The nitrogen compounds include pyridines, picolines and pyrazines.

Flavours from distillation:

The flavoring of whisky is partially determined by the presence of congeners and fusel oils. Fusel oils are higher alcohols than ethanol, are mildly toxic, and have a strong, disagreeable smell and taste. An excess of fusel oils in whisky is considered a defect. A variety of methods are employed in the distillation process to remove unwanted fusel oils. Traditionally, American distillers focused on secondary filtration using charcoal, gravel, sand, or linen to remove undesired distillates. Canadian distillers have traditionally employed column stills which can be controlled to produce an almost pure (and less flavorful) ethanol known as neutral grain spirit or grain neutral spirit (GNS).  Flavor is restored by blending the neutral grain spirits with flavoring whiskies.

Acetals are rapidly formed in distillates and a great many are found in distilled beverages, the most prominent being acetaldehyde diethyl acetal (1,1-diethoxyethane). Among whiskies the highest levels are associated with malt whisky. This acetal is a principal flavour compound in sherry, and contributes fruitiness to the aroma.

The diketone diacetyl (2,3-Butanedione) has a buttery aroma and is present in almost all distilled beverages. Whiskies and cognacs typically contain more than vodkas, but significantly less than rums or brandies.[42]

Flavours from oak:

Whisky lactone (3-methyl-4-octanolide) is found in all types of oak. This lactone has a strong coconut aroma.  Whisky lactone is also known as quercus lactone.  Commercially charred oaks are rich in phenolic compounds. One study identified 40 different phenolic compounds. The coumarin scopoletin is present in whisky, with the highest level reported in Bourbon whiskey.

Bourbon

Bourbon is an American whiskey, a type of distilled spirit, made primarily from corn and named for Bourbon County, Kentucky. It has been produced since the 18th century. While it may be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

On 4 May 1964, the United States Congress recognized Bourbon Whiskey as a “distinctive product of the United States.” The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5.22) state that bourbon must meet these requirements:

  • Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
  • Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume).
  • Neither coloring nor flavoring may be added.
  • Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Bourbon must be entered into the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume).
  • Bourbon, like other whiskeys, may not be bottled at less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume.)
  • Bourbon which meets the above requirements and has been aged for a minimum of two years, may (but is not required to) be called Straight Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon aged for a period less than four years must be labeled with the duration of its aging.
  • If an age is stated on the label, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.

In practice, almost all bourbons marketed today are made from more than two-thirds corn, have been aged at least four years, and do qualify as “straight bourbon”—with or without the “straight bourbon” label. The exceptions are inexpensive commodity brands of bourbon aged only three years and pre-mixed cocktails made with straight bourbon aged the minimum two years. However, a few small distilleries market bourbons aged for as little as three months.

Production process:

The typical grain mixture for bourbon, known as the mash bill, is 70% corn with the remainder being wheat and/or rye, and malted barley. The grain is ground, dissolved in water, and usually, though not always, mash from a previous distillation is added to ensure a consistent pH across batches. Finally, yeast is added and the mash is fermented. The fermented mash is then distilled to (typically) between 65% and 80% alcohol.

This clear spirit is placed in charred oak barrels for aging, during which it gains color and flavor from the wood. Changes to the spirit also occur due to evaporation and chemical processes such as oxidation. Bourbons gain more color and flavor the longer they age. Maturity, not a particular age, is the goal. Bourbon can age too long and become woody and unbalanced.

After aging, bourbon is withdrawn from the barrel, usually diluted with water and bottled to at least 80 US proof (40% abv). Most bourbon whiskey is sold at 80 US proof. Other common proofs are 86, 90, 94, 100 and 107, and whiskeys of up to 151 proof have been sold. Some higher proof bottlings are “barrel proof,” meaning that they have not been diluted after removal from the barrels.

Bourbon whiskey may be sold at less than 80 proof but must be labeled as “diluted bourbon.”

Geographic origin:

Bourbon may be produced anywhere in the United States where it is legal to distill spirits. Currently most brands are produced in Kentucky, where bourbon has a strong association. Estimates are that 95% of the world’s bourbon is distilled and aged in Kentucky. Bourbon has also been made in Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Bardstown, Kentucky, is called the Bourbon Capital of the World and is home to the annual Bourbon Festival in September.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is the name of a tourism promotion intended to attract visitors to eight well-known distilleries: Buffalo Trace (Frankfort), Four Roses (Lawrenceburg), Heaven Hill (Bardstown), Jim Beam (Clermont), Maker’s Mark (Loretto), Tom Moore (Bardstown, added to the trail on August 27, 2008), Wild Turkey (Lawrenceburg), and Woodford Reserve (Versailles).

History:

Oak casks, shown stacked in ricks, used to store and age bourbon. Bourbon, or rather whiskey in general, that escapes naturally from the wooden casks, as seen by the stains along the sides of the barrels, is known to distillers as the “angel’s share“.

The origin of bourbon is not well documented. Instead, there are many conflicting legends and claims, some more credible than others. For example, the invention of bourbon is often attributed to a pioneering Baptist minister and distiller named Elijah Craig. Rev. Craig (credited with many Kentucky firsts, e.g., fulling mill, paper mill, ropewalk, etc.) is said to also be the first to age the distillation in charred oak casks, “a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique taste.”[7] Across the county line in Bourbon County, an early distiller named Jacob Spears is credited with being the first to label his product “Bourbon whiskey.” Spears’ home, Stone Castle, warehouse and spring house survive; one can drive by the Spears home on Clay-Kaiser Road.

It should be noted that Berkley Plantation in Virginia lays claim to the first bourbon whiskey produced in 1621, by George Thorpe, an Episcopal priest, although they did not call it “bourbon” at the time.

Although still popular and often repeated, the Craig legend has little actual credibility. Similarly, the Spears story is a local favorite, rarely repeated outside the county. There likely was no single “inventor” of bourbon, which developed into its present form only in the late 19th century.[8]

Distilling probably arrived in what would later become known as Kentucky when Scottish, Scots-Irish, and other settlers (including, English, Irish, German, and French) began to farm the area in earnest in the late 18th century. The spirit they made evolved and gained a name in the early 19th century.

When American pioneers pushed west of the Allegheny Mountains following the American Revolution, the first counties they founded covered vast regions. One of these original, huge counties was Bourbon, established in 1785 and named after the French royal family. While this vast county was being carved into many smaller ones, early in the 19th century, many people continued to call the region Old Bourbon. Located within Old Bourbon was the principal Ohio River port from which whiskey and other products were shipped. “Old Bourbon” was stencilled on the barrels to indicate their port of origin. Old Bourbon whiskey was different because it was the first corn whiskey most people had ever tasted. In time, bourbon became the name for any corn-based whiskey.[9]

A refinement variously credited to either James C. Crow or Jason S. Amburgey[10] was the sour mash process, by which each new fermentation is conditioned with some amount of spent mash (previously fermented mash that has been separated from its alcohol). Spent mash is also known as spent beer, distillers’ spent grain, stillage, and slop or feed mash, so named because it is used as animal feed. The acid introduced by using the sour mash controls the growth of bacteria that could taint the whiskey and creates a proper pH balance for the yeast to work.

As of 2005[update], all straight bourbons use a sour mash process. Crow or Amburgey developed this refinement while working at the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery (now the Woodford Reserve Distillery) in Woodford County, Kentucky. As of today, there are no running distilleries within the current boundaries of Bourbon County due to new counties being formed from Bourbon County over time.

A resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1964 declared bourbon to be a “distinctive product of the United States.” That resolution asked “the appropriate agencies of the United States Government… [to] take appropriate action to prohibit importation into the United States of whiskey designated as ‘Bourbon Whiskey.'”Federal regulation now defines “bourbon whiskey” to only include “bourbon” produced in the United States.

National Bourbon Heritage Month:

On August 2, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution sponsored by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) officially declaring September 2007 “National Bourbon Heritage Month,” marking the history of bourbon whiskey.  Notably, the resolution claims that Congress declared bourbon to be “America’s Native Spirit” in its 1964 resolution.  The 1964 resolution, however, does not contain such a statement per se; it only declares that bourbon is a distinctive product identifiable with the United States in the same way that Scotch is identifiable with Scotland.  The resolution has been passed each year since.

Present day:

Since 2003, high-end bourbons have seen revenue grow from $450 million to over $500 million (£231 million to over £257 million or €308 million to over €343 million), some 2.2 million cases, in the United States. High-end bourbon sales accounted for eight percent of total spirits growth in 2006. Most high-end bourbons are aged for six years or longer.[15]

In 2007, United States spirits exports, virtually all of which are American whiskey, exceeded $1 billion for the first time. This represents a 15 percent increase over 2006. American whiskey is now sold in more than 100 countries. The leading markets are the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Japan. Key emerging markets for American whiskey are China, Vietnam, Brazil, Chile, Romania, and Bulgaria.”

Whiskey according to Wikipedia

Disclaimer:

This article is posted here from Wikipedia so readers of our blog can see a brief overview of whiskey without having to leave our blog.   All credit from this post goes to Wikipedia.  We just like to collect facts and tasting notes from all over the web to share with our Whiskey Society and our guests that love whiskey.  Happy reading and drinking!

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