Friday, September 14, 2007

What Makes Bourbon Bourbon?

And, Why Is Scotch Aged in Bourbon Barrels?

I'm spending more time touring distilleries than I am in front of my computer (thank God) so look for Kentucky Bourbon Festival coverage next week. In the meantime, here are some things I learned today:

In order for a spirit to boast the name "bourbon" and not be simply "Kentucky whiskey," it must follow these guidelines:

- Be made from at least 51% corn
- Be aged a minimum of 2 years
- Be aged only in new, charred, American white oak barrels

Interesting Tid-Bit: After aging and "dumping," many of the used barrels are then sold to Scotland to be used to age Scotch. Because Scotland is colder, the spirit doesn't expand into the wood the way it does in the warmer climates. Therefore, it is important that Scotch be aged in a barrel which already has some strong flavor in the wood.

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