Maker’s Mark, Booker’s, Baker’s, Knob Creek, Wild Turkey, and Jim Beam. These all have one thing in common, something that sets them apart from their competitors (really only one, but whatever, there are a few others). The competitor that I am talking about is of course Jack Daniels, or as my father likes to call it “tennessee toilet water,” and yes I meant to keep that state lower cased due to the quality of liquor that they produce being lower than the great state of Kentucky. What separates these two groups are some very defining characteristics, ones that not a lot of people out there know about. What is a bourbon? A whiskey? A whisky? Well rest assured, I will help ya out.
First I will start off with what a whisky is, since it is the easiest to explain. It comes from Scotland, thats how the Scots spell it, it’s made pretty much the same way any whiskey is made. Done. Simple enough right? Well things start to get a little fuzzier when we start to look at bourbon and whiskey.
Let it be known that all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. This is due to the fact that they are made similarly and have the same specifications that are needed to call both parties a “whiskey,” but they have different ingredients and are aged and stored differently.
So what makes a bourbon, you ask? Well first off for a whiskey to be called bourbon it must come from at least a 51% corn mash. The mash is the mixture of ingredients that is fermented to make the alcohol. Once the liquid is made it must be stored and aged in oak barrel that is freshly charred. It also has to come from the Ol’ USA as well for it to meet the requirement, literally there is a law that states this. But really when they say that it has to come form the US , they mean Kentucky, since Kentucky produces about 95% of the bourbon used around the world. Here are some bourbons that you can check out.
As for whiskey, literally it can be made with any mixture of mash that the distiller wants to use. What sets Jack Daniels, and other tennessee whiskies, apart is that it must be slowly dripped over maple charcoal before storage and aging for it to be called a “tennessee whiskey.”
If you are thinking about upping you knowledge of how different bourbons and whiskies taste, there a few that I recommend you try. Some are cheap, some are pricey, just find the right one for you. For bourbon, I recommend Knob Creek, my personal favorite. It is a little pricey, but it is worth the money. A little cheaper route to go is Jim Beam. Not bad, and easy on the wallet. For whiskey, I recommend Crown Royal, about as pricey as Knob Creek, made in Canada, and is much better than anything Jack makes.
So the next time you are at the bar and you order a bourbon and coke and the bartender starts to pour Jack Daniels, leave, find a new bar.
Here are some great bourbon-filled drinks to make at home:
Here is a really cool video that my father actually showed me a while back that takes you through the history of bourbon in Kentucky. Kentucky Bourbon Trail
And if you want to see some bald Youtuber review a bunch of bourbons, here ya go.