What Guys Should Know About Bourbon
Recently we were sent a bottle of Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon. While we were sipping on it at work an associate editor who shall remain nameless said, “Drinking the cheap stuff?”
The person was not kidding.
Granted, we weren’t drinking Russel’s Reserve 1998, which runs about $250 per bottle, but what we were drinking wasn’t the cheap stuff in the sense that his snarky idiot mouth said it, either.
When pressed to elaborate on why it was the “cheap stuff,” Snarky Idiot Mouth admitted that he has no reason for opening his idiot trap and releasing his idiocy and bad breath into the atmosphere. Turns out, the dude didn’t drink bourbon; he’d never heard of Russell’s Reserve. We had to school him.
Russell’s Reserve is a 10-year-old bourbon made from the father-and-son duo at Wild Turkey — Jimmy and Eddie Russell. Each bottle is handcrafted and made in small batches. You’ll catch hints of oak, toffee, and vanilla. There are so-called rules for how to best drink whiskey or bourbon, but we’re not going to tell you how the hell to consume your booze. We sipped it neat.
Wild Turkey became the default for cheap booze, as if only down-on-their-luck people consumed it. Bullshit. It has hints of vanilla and caramel and at 101 proof it packs a solid punch for being around $20 per bottle.
Anyway, after we schooled him we tasked our bonehead associate editor with finding six things people who know nothing about bourbon should know. Here’s what he found …
1. Most, Not All, Bourbon Is From Kentucky
Almost 95 percent of all bourbon is made in Kentucky. As for the other five percent? Who cares. To earn the title of bourbon, the booze has to be at least 51 percent corn that’s aged in charred oak barrels at no more than 125 proof. When bottled, it should be between 80 and 160 proof. (FYI: The term is how the government categorizes alcohol content in a certain drink. Split the number in half and you get the booze content in the bottle.)
2. The Distilling Process Is Strict
Only water can be added to bourbon while it is being distilled. That’s why when Wild Turkey decided to get crazy and add honey to their recipe they had to rename it. The flavor you get from bourbon should come from the charred oak barrels.
3. Give It A Few Pours Per Serving
There are suspended solids in bourbon that settle to the bottom of the bottle. By pouring a little bourbon, shaking it up, and then pouring it again, you can make sure that you round out the flavor in your glass. Do we expect you to do that? Sure, at least once.
4. Blended Bourbon Is Not Straight Bourbon
Straight bourbon is bourbon that has aged for at least two years; no additives are included. Blended bourbon has additives and has aged a shorter amount of time. A more comprehensive explanation can be found here.
5. Bourbon Barrels Get Used Once
After a bourbon barrel is used once they’re often shipped to other distilleries, where they are used to age scotch and tequila.
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