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 June 6, 2017bourbon versus whiskey

Bourbon versus Whiskey

By Kevin Nemeth


I like most bourbons but not as many whiskeys.  What? -  I thought bourbon and whiskey was the same thing. In fact, all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon….got that?


Whiskey is a beverage made from fermented grain such as wheat, rye, barley and corn aged in wooden barrels.  Whiskey is made worldwide and there a several styles. You’ve probably heard of Scotch, Canadian blends, rye whiskey, Japanese whiskey, etc.


Bourbon, on the other hand, is uniquely American and formulated according to “Bourbon law.”  That is, it must be made of at least 51% corn, stored in new charred-oak barrels, entered into the barrel at 125 proof and distilled to no more than 160 proof.  It must also be bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% alcohol) and cannot contain and added flavoring, coloring or other additives.


According to the Kentucky Distillers Association, Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon most bourbon is made in Kentucky – some 95% of the world’s supply.  Since it requires several years to age, there are now about one and a half barrels of bourbon for every person living in that state!


While Kentucky will always remain king, the rise of craft distilleries elsewhere in the country means bourbon is likely to be available in one’s home state, including Montana. While many of Montana’s distilleries produce whiskey, only a few produce bourbon. I am particularly fond of Willie’s bourbon blend from Ennis. However, after looking over the bourbons produced by the other distillers (and in the interest of science), I may have to do some in-depth comparisons of Montana bourbons.


There are many ways to enjoy bourbon in mixed cocktails, including famous concoctions like the Old Fashioned, Mint Julep or Manhattan. However, I personally think the best way to enjoy it is on the rocks.





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