Focus On Bourbon Whiskey

95% of bourbon is made in the state 95% of bourbon is made in the state
'Straight bourbon' must be aged in new oak for at least two years Established in 1778, Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously running distillery in the US There are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than there are people Bourbon casks must be NEW, CHARRED and made of OAK
Bourbon was declared America’s native spirit in 1964 Bourbon is the key spirit in many iconic cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and mint julep Bourbon recipes must be made up of at least 51% corn Unaged bourbon that has not spent any time in barrel is known as 'white dog'
A column still

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.

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A rick house at Buffalo Trace
Coopers making casks

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.

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Buffalo Trace's iconic water tower
A Manhattan

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.

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Key Flavours

  • Vanilla

    Vanilla

  • Toffee

    Toffee

  • Cinnamon

    Cinnamon

A Mint Julep