Know Thy Distilled Spirit

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Well if you are drinking bourbon, and you damn well better be, then we know you are enjoying a whisk(e)y. We all know that whisk(e)y is a distilled grain spirit and in the case of bourbon, that grain is mostly corn. At least 51% corn to be considered a bourbon. Obviously it can be more, but never less than 51% as required by the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5). Bourbon can only be produced in the United States (For a review of what a bourbon is, please read the Bourbon Basics article posted on this site)

So we know Bourbon is made of corn. But do you know what other popular spirits are made from? How about scotch, rum or vodka? Well, you’re in luck. Despite my affinity for bourbon, I also know a little about other spirits as well. Let The Bourboneer impart some knowledge.

Vodka – Main ingredient: Just about anything. Ingredients like potatoes, rice, sorghum, sugar and even grains like wheat and corn are regularly used. Vodka is distilled so many times the ethanol level is usually around 95% until it is cut with water prior to bottling. All flavor is distilled out and the spirit is not aged therefore leaving a bland characterless offering.

Rum  – Main ingredient: Sugar cane (molasses).

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Scotch  – Main ingredient: Barley but also other cereal grains.

Irish Whiskey – Main ingredient: Barley but also other cereal grains.

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Canadian Whisky – Main ingredient: Rye and Corn

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Tequila – Main ingredient: Agave plant (blue)

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Gin – Main ingredient: Juniper berries

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BrandyMain ingredient: Various fruit depending on type desired (ie., peach, apple)

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CognacMain ingredient: Grapes

SherryMain ingredient: Wine fortified with grape spirit

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So there is a brief overview, not comprehensive of course, but a guide so to speak for the next occasion you partake in your favorite distilled spirit. However, when you pride yourself in drinking the world’s finest spirit, bourbon, then at least 51% corn is all you need to know.

– The Bourboneer

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Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Angel’s Envy KSBW (finished in port wine barrels), 43.3 ABV or 86.6 proof (NAS) Louisville Spirits Group, Louisville, KY.

Gratitude!

Recently, I was given a new assignment at work. Whether I like it or not, the occasional organizational transfer is part of my chosen profession. It’s an aspect you grow accustom to, frankly. I spent almost 6 years in my last position, however, it was time to move on to a new and different adventure. To say I enjoyed my tenure in my last assignment would certainly be an understatement. It wasn’t the position, duties, responsibilities or even the nuances of the job that kept things fulfilling, nearly everyday was a completely new experience. It was the incredible and talented people I worked with that made coming to work every day so rewarding. They made the job easy and enjoyable. These fine men and women developed and maintained a culture of professionalism, dedication and accountability that I had not witnessed in my 20+ years on the job. It was hard to say goodbye. Truly!

On my last day, the group threw a “thank you, we’ll miss you” going away party as a means to celebrate our time together. I was extremely thankful and utterly spoiled, to be honest. They not only paid for my lunch but surprised me with several thoughtful gifts. Since my written word lacks sufficient capability to explain my level of gratitude and how wonderful these people are I will simply show you what they gave me.

Knowing I am the Bourboneer and a lover of the brown water, I was pleasantly surprised by a bottle of Hillrock – Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey. A very delicious and very expensive bottle of bourbon. According to Clay Risen’s review in American Whiskey Bourbon & Rye, Hillrock has a high rye mash bill. “In the solera process, a barrel of aged whiskey is partially emptied and topped off with unaged spirit. After a few years the process is repeated…After a period of aging, the bourbon is “finished” in twenty-year-old Oloroso sherry casks.” I wanted to save the bottle for special occasions but I couldn’t resist, I just had to try a dram. I am glad I did! The nose was dense, filled with dark fruit, maple syrup, sweet tobacco with even a hint of leather. Chewy fig, raisin and notes of caramel and toffee were evident to the palate. So scrumptious!

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If the bourbon wasn’t enough they also gave me a beautiful stainless steel cocktail shaker with a “To the Bourboneer” engraved inscription. Unfortunately in the picture below, I couldn’t capture the inscription successfully. Every attempt to get an effective shot only reflected my phone and fat head in the picture. My apologies.

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Once again, I just want to say it was truly an honor to work with such professional, thoughtful and incredible colleagues. I am a better person for the experience. Thank you!

-The Bourboneer

 

Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Hillrock-Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey, 46% ABV or 92 proof (NAS) Hillrock Estate Distillery, Ancram, NY.

References: American Whiskey Bourbon & Rye, Clay Risen, Sterling Epicure Publishing, 2013, New York, NY.