All bourbon is whisky, but not all whisky is bourbon.
How are you feeling this morning?
Did you have yourself a big, ol’ roof-raising, barn-stomping good time last night?
Are you moving slowly, or did you wake up, on this fine Saturday morning, with a Honey-Do List as long as the Bill of Rights, zoned in on tackling at least a dozen of them?
But first, Advil, coffee and bacon…
I feel like a champ today.
Probably because my Honey-Do List is NADA.
Don’t be jelly…
Most likely, I feel incredible because I rarely get hammered anymore.
I’m a far cry from being the Crazy Train conductor I was 30 years ago.
The year of 2020, though, I think we all needed some drinks to contend with the running wood chipper life was dangling us all directly above.
I’m a bourbon drinker.
Roughly 18 billion years ago, I worked with a group of young men who were from Kentucky.
(We were ALL young back then.)
These fine gentlemen introduced me to the subtleties and nuances of bourbon, and how it differed from whiskey.
“Bourbon is Kentucky’s true state drink.”
-Lynn Marie Hulsman
Being Kentucky boys, they were adamant that, if a libation was calling itself bourbon, it was from Kentucky.
That’s not necessarily true now.
Now, you have to be just a tad bit more specific when referring to the Kentucky ownership of bourbon, by stating, “If it’s Kentucky bourbon, it has to be made in Kentucky.”
Same-same, pretty much.
Mark Twain loved bourbon, and, by God, that has always been good enough for me.
“If I cannot drink bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven, then I shall not go.”
However, there are the bourbon versus whiskey differences.
So let’s just get those out of the way and make the distinctions.
Here we go…
Most simply put, the reason bourbon is different from whiskey is the way it’s aged and made.
All whiskey is made of a mixture of fermented grains, a.k.a. mash.
Bourbon grains must consist of at least 51% corn.
The corn is what gives bourbon that sweet, delectable flavor.
Don’t forget the barrels!
New, charred, oak barrels are a must for bourbon, and it must be “aged” for at least two years.
No sloppy seconds!
Bourbon cannot be aged in barrels that were previously used, and no additives or coloring, of any kind, are allowed.
Nothing but the best when it comes to bourbon.
The technicalities of distilling bourbon are written in stone.
Not really, but there are strict distillate guidelines that a spirit must achieve, if it wants to be called bourbon and not whiskey.
For instance, bourbon mash has to be distilled at 160 proof or less, and then aged in those beautiful, charred, oak barrels, until it is no more than 125 proof.
Before it’s bottled, bourbon is diluted, but no less than 80 proof.
It’s all about the taste and flavor of the spirit.
The last bottle of bourbon I bought was 125 proof, and it was frickin’ delicious.
Taking recommendations from friends and my favorite liquor store owner, I try new bourbons all of the time.
Frankly, I convinced it’s made me a better person.
“Bourbon does for me what a piece of cake did for Proust.”
Not gonna lie, I love cake, too!
One bottle of bourbon usually lasts me about a month.
Usually, I serve it over large ice cubes, but sometimes you just sip it straight and enjoy the hell out of it.
No mixers required.
If you need a mixer, you’ve not yet acquired the appreciation for bourbon.
Get it together, would ya?
Tonight is Saturday night.
IF you’re going to enjoy an adult beverage (or ten) this evening, might I suggest that you enjoy a delicious highball of bourbon?
I’ll do the same, as I lift my glass to the men and women of Kentucky, who know a good thing when they taste it.