How is it Made?
Bourbon must be made with a mash bill of at least 51% corn, with the remainder made up of rye, wheat and barley. The grains are ground (but kept separate), then added to hot water at various temperatures (corn goes in first; barley goes in last), then yeast is added, creating a beer-like liquid at 6-8% ABV. This is distilled, almost always in a column still, then the resulting 'white dog' is aged in new white-oak casks, but usually for much less time than in Scotland, due to Kentucky's much faster maturation rate.
Who Makes It?
There are far fewer bourbon distilleries in Kentucky than there are whisky distilleries in Scotland, but they will often produce a plethora of styles (and brands) under one roof. Heaven Hill distillery, for example, is home to Elijah Craig, Evan Williams and Henry McKenna, among others. Bourbon distilleries will often change their mash bill for each brand, too: a corn-rich recipe will bring out bourbon's sweeter side; more rye in the mash bill will add a spicy, peppery note.
How to Serve It
If you fancy a bourbon cocktail, you're spoiled for choice. Some of the most iconic cocktails of all time have bourbon at their heart: think Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Whiskey Sours – classics, all of them. Bourbon is noted for its rich, sweet spiciness, and is a great base for a mixed drink or cocktail. The best bourbons, however, deserve to be sipped neat.