will tell you that the name Bourbon can be applied to whiskeys which are distilled in
Bourbon County, Kentucky.
In fact, any American whiskey is entitled to the name "Bourbon," providing the
spirit is a distillate of 51% corn and is matured for a minimum of two years in charred
American oak barrels.
However, when labeled as "Kentucky Bourbon," the whiskey must, indeed, come
from the state of Kentucky. The whiskeys made in Tennessee (Jack Daniels and George
Dickel) are labeled as "Tennessee Whiskeys" to distinguish themselves from
Bourbon, as noted above, must be 51% corn. The other grains involved are usually
some sort of blend of barley malt, rye and wheat. The grains are then processed into
a meal and water is then added. This is, then, cooked, producing starch.
Further cooking causes the starch to become maltose or grain sugar. Add some yeast
to this and you'll have fermentation.
The mash is then allowed to ferment for a few days, attaining something like eight or
nine percent alcohol. It is at this stage when the distiller takes over, heating the
mash and capturing the vapors (which contain alcohol and flavor).
You will find some large distillers with continuous stills, as much as 50 feet tall and
four feet in diameter. The product of this still is called "low wine" or
"distiller's beer," being 45 to 65 percent alcohol. A doubler still
then refines this to "high wine," with something like 50 to 58 percent alcohol.
The higher the proof (alcohol), the less flavor you'll find in the whiskey at this
Tennessee distillers will then filter the high wine through a maple charcoal filter before
aging the spirit.
The whiskey then is transferred to new oak barrels. The barrels have highly charred
staves which contributes color and flavor to the whiskey. A two year aging period is
the minimum, but whiskeys matured less than four years must state the age on the label.
They must be stored at no more than 125 degrees (I imagine warmer storage "ages"
the spirit more quickly). It must be at least 80 proof when bottled. Most
major brands make no age statement, since they're typically a bit more than 4 years old.
There are not so many distillers today. There's been a tremendous consolidation
of brands, with one distiller making a dozen (or more) brands of whiskey. For
example, Jim Beam produces Knob Creek, Basil Hayden's, Baker's and Booker's.
Blended Whiskey is a blend of which a minimum of 20% is 100-proof
straight whiskey. The rest can be other whiskey or grain neutral spirits. I
read someplace that these can even contain a bit of sherry!
Bonded Bourbon Whiskey is made in accordance with the "Bottled and
Bond Act of 1897." It is a straight Bourbon whiskey made at one time (not a
blend of years, apparently) and in one location. It must be aged for at least four
years and is bottled in a government-supervised warehouse at 100-proof.
Canadian Whisky is usually distilled primarily from corn or wheat, though
rye and barley are sometimes used. These are usually aged in used barrels, not new.
Three years of aging in wood is the minimum, though most are four to six years old.
Rye Whiskey is made in a fashion similar to Bourbon, but must be 51%
rye. It is usually heavier in flavor than Bourbon. Very little whiskey is bottled as
"Rye Whiskey," most being blended with corn whiskeys to add body and flavor.
In some parts of the U.S., people asking for "Rye" are asking for a
Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is a bottling of Bourbon of a single
Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey is something like a "Special
Selection" in winemaking. It is a selection of barrels from various batches and
bottled with the idea that the distiller will duplicate the whiskey on a consistent basis.
These are becoming popular, as distillers have noticed consumers are willing to pay
premium prices for what are perceived to be premium (or ultra-premium) products.
Sour Mash indicates a method of whiskey-making. The process was
developed by James C. Crow (Old Crow) who would add a portion of the previous day's
"mash" to the new mash. I can remember seeing one brand (years ago) sold
as a "Mellow Mash," but most are "Sour Mash."
Some Whiskeys We Like:
MAKER'S MARK 750ml sale $21.99
1.75liter jugs are just $39.99!
Maker's Mark is a premium Bourbon whiskey which just about any connoisseur
will drink. It is rather smooth and has a sweet oak bouquet. We have it
sale-tagged to introduce it to our customers.
Top of the Line:
SMOOTH AMBLER "YEARLING BOURBON" $27.99 375ml
comes in 375ml format...nicely aged and it's quite smooth...Corn, wheat and
SMOOTH AMBLER RYE "Old Scout" $41.99
for something like 7 years in wood, this is a delightful Rye...despite being 99
Proof, it's actually rather smooth...
BULLEIT $23.99 (750ml)
wonderful story of the Bulleit family coming from France and settling in New
Orleans back in the 1800s. Apparently Augustus Bulleit knew how to make
brandy and used his distillation skills to produce a Bourbon once he moved to
A few years ago, a descendent of the family, a law school graduate, started up a
Bourbon-making business. A few years later he sold it to Seagrams.
But Tom Bulleit works as the company spokesman and the recipe remains a good
What's different about this whiskey is it's got a high percentage of rye for a
"Bourbon." It's smooth and has nice vanilla bean notes.
It's less 'sweet', though, than Maker's Mark, for example.
come and go rather quickly...
This company makes a number of different bottlings...and they seem to prefer
selling these in bars where they are sold "by the shot."
We sometimes have their older bottlings...I order these every week and you never
know when a bottle might show up.
Stop by and have a look.
ELMER T. LEE
old Ancient Age distillery, now Buffalo Trace, is the source of this lovely
Elmer worked under Albert Blanton and learned his craft, eventually becoming the
master distiller at Ancient Age...he was the first to bottle a single barrel
Bourbon, called Blanton's, in fact.
He retired years ago and today the distillery puts out a Bourbon in Lee's
honor. This is along the lines of Blanton's, but a bit lower in
Willett Distillery is today called Kentucky Bourbon Distillers and they make
some good, "old time" Bourbons.
Johnny Drum is an "old timers" whiskey and today's young
whippersnappers may find this too "retro" for their tastes.
It sells for around thirty bucks.
W.L. WELLER 10 year old
Bernheim distillery in Louisville owns this brand. Weller is a famous name
in whiskey lore, William LaRue Weller being famous for selling his product as
"An Honest Whiskey at an Honest Price."
The 10 year old "Centennial" bottling is a 100-proof spirit with an
amazing fragrance reminiscent of vanilla and butterscotch. The aftertaste
of this lingers with fiery warmth. $34.99 a bottle, so it's still an
honest whiskey at an honest price. Not in stock presently...
would be Mr. Booker Noe, grandson of Mr. Jim Beam. This whiskey started
out as a little holiday present to Booker's buddies, but it was so
well-received, someone decided they ought to commercialize the product.
It's bottled without being "cut" with water, so you'll find this has
quite a kick to it, clocking in at around 123 proof. The whiskey is not
filtered, either and will turn cloudy should your bottle be exposed to cold
Booker is quite a "good ole boy" according to a former Weimax staffer
who met him once. She said he does enjoy his whiskey, too.
We're told that one of his famous lines is "Whiskey improves with
age. The older I get, the more I like it."
The fragrance of this potent potable displays oak, honey, caramel, butterscotch
and spices. $49.99
probably seen the whiskey called "Old Grand-Dad." The old
grandfather for whom that spirit was named was none other than Basil Hayden, a
Kentucky distiller back in the 1700s!
Old Grand-Dad is now owned by Jim Beam and so's this special eight year old
Bourbon. Though of course based on corn, there's a higher-than-normal
percentage of rye and barley in this. You'll find it to be spicier than
most Bourbons, attributable, says the distillery, to the rye. $42.99
Fitzgerald was the whiskey first produced by John Fitzgerald back in 1870 in
Frankfort, Kentucky. His Bourbon was only sold in private clubs and to
cruise-lines (I don't know if it was some kind of cure for
The firm was purchased by Pappy Van Winkle, who's taste ran towards using more
wheat and less (or no) rye. Mr. Van Winkle was also involved in the
creation of Maker's Mark Bourbon, by the way. The 12 year old bottling of
Old Fitz is terrific! Hints of cinnamon and spice, combine with
vanilla...very fine! $34.99
This isn't John Hancock's reserve...it's named for
Mr. Hancock Taylor. Hancock's Reserve is a single-barrel whiskey, showing
hints of floral and tropical fruit notes. Honey and spice characterize the
finish. Very nice. $39.99
Lincoln is reputed to have resided, as a child, in the area near Bardstown,
Kentucky called "Knob Creek." Abe wasn't much of a whiskey fan,
though he legend has it he asked an aide what kind of whiskey the victorious
General Grant favored so he could send some of it to the other military leaders
of the day. A product of the Jim Beam distillery, this was first
introduced in 1992. A nine year-old whiskey, this is bottled at
100-proof. The oak and caramel notes are very attractive and this is a
lovely Bourbon for Manhattans.
Dickel was not the founder of this well-known distillery in Tennessee. No,
he was a whiskey merchant who ended up buying the Cascade Distillery.
They had to pack up and move out of town, as Prohibition arrived in Tullahoma
about a decade before the rest of the U.S. George Dickel whisky (they
spell is differently from most American producers) was, for a time, made in
Kentucky. The process, known as the Lincoln County Process, is different
in that it was filtered through a vat filled with sugar maple charcoal.
"Mellow as Moonlight" is how they sold George Dickel whisky back in
Dickel's day. You can taste the charcoal notes in "Old No.
12". A "Special Barrel Reserve" bottling has similar
pedigree but with some caramel and spice on the finish.
Williams' claim to fame is being the first commercial distiller in Louisville.
He was so quick to set up a distillery, it seems he didn't obtain the proper
government permits for this enterprise. Nonetheless, he was elected to the
local town council which enacted an edict declaring any ardent or spirituous
liquors would be confiscated by the board for their own use after
adjournment. Evan Williams is said to have frequently arrived with a jug
full of ardent liquor.
The Evan Williams brand is made by the Heaven Hill Distillery in
Bardstown. Their Black Label is a lovely medium-bodied, mildly-oaked
Bourbon. The price is quite reasonable, too, costing little more than ten
Their 12 year old is a very fine whiskey. We usually have a bottle of that
on the shelf, too.
emigrated from Ireland to Kentucky where he was farming and distilling. He
ended up doing more of the latter and less of the former. His recipe used
a high percentage of wheat in the whiskey. McKenna also insisted on aging
the spirit in wood until it was smooth. His distillery fell idle during
Prohibition, his heirs running the place from 1934 until selling it to Seagrams
in 1941. It's now a brand owned by Heaven Hill. We periodically get
a call for this rather basic, 80 proof Bourbon. It's got a touch of wood
and a bit of herbal/minty notes. Liter bottles are around $15.
We sometimes have a lovely Bourbon and Rye from this company....very showy, too.
This is often billed as a 15 year old Bourbon, but the label does not make this
claim. I read they blend whiskeys ranging from 12 to about 17 years of age
to create this lovely spirit. It's woodsy and has a nice 'sweet' tone to
the nose and palate. Very fine.
distillery is located in a northern part of Kentucky at a location close to the
Kentucky River where buffalo used to migrate...
The distillery turns out an impressive range of labels and this label represents
a selection of barrels...the Bourbon shows a lot of oak, toffee and wood spice
Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
Wild Turkey Rye
Jim Beam Rye
Wild Turkey 12 year old
Wild Turkey "Rare Breed"
Jack Daniels Black Label
Jack Daniels Single Barrel
Jack Daniels' Gentleman Jack
Michter's Rye (in stock)
If We Don't Have It, We'll Special Order