Bourbon is a corn
that is made in Kentucky
, but it is oh-so-much-more!
NOTE: I found much of the following information and more at www.straightbourbon.com
First of all, there are strict laws governing what may be labeled as bourbon. At least 51 percent of the grain used in making the whiskey must be corn (most distillers use 65 to 75 percent corn) and it must be aged for a minimum of two years in new, white-oak barrels that have been charred. Only Kentucky producers are allowed to label their product bourbon; the identical liquor produced in Tennessee cannot be labeled bourbon.
To produce bourbon, a combination of water, yeast developed specifically for whiskey making, and grains (corn, plus small amounts of malted barley, wheat and/or rye) are cooked to form a yeast mash. After cooling, the mash goes into a fermenter for up to three days. When the grains settle to the bottom of the fermenter what's left is a liquid known as distiller's beer.
The distiller's beer is distilled twice, to produce a spirit that is between 120 to 130 proof. Water is then added to cut the strength to a maximum of 125 proof, depending on the wishes of the maker. The whiskey is moved into new, charred, oak barrels. Charring the inside of the barrel caramelizes the natural sugars in the wood, producing a red layer that gives the whiskey its color and flavor. During aging, the alcohol content increases slightly in the barrels, so the proof is sometimes adjusted before filtering and bottling.
Mass-produced bourbons are generally blended from the contents of several barrels in order to produce a consistent taste across batches. Fine bourbons that are not quite mass-produced are sometimes referred to as small-batch bourbons. Often these are not blended and are bottled from a single barrel (single-barrel bourbons) which is monitored by a master craftsman until the contents develop the correct qualities of scent, color, and flavor.
Some of my favorite small-batch bourbons are:
Wild Turkey Rare Breed
Some good mass-produced bourbons are: