Bourbon Tasting

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Stickers Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Three Bourbons we tried Bourbon water!
Bourbon in Bardstown Bourbon Distillery Bourbon in Bardstown
Bourbon Barrels! Bourbon Rick Houses More Bourbon Barrels

Kentucky is the number one seller and producer of bourbon in the world. Hence, in my move to Kentucky, I had to learn more.

If you’ve never been to a Bourbon distillery, you simply cannot fathom the process and set standard of ingredients that go into bourbon. I’m serious. I used to look at a bottle of Evan Williams and think, oh, that’s just another form of liquor…cool (thick sarcasm)!

But really, bourbon has a really neat history and after touring a few distillery’s myself, I’d like to share more!

The Process:

 1. The Grain: Step one is the grain. Bourbon is made with a mixture of corn, malted barley, rye and wheat. The grains used are first, ground up. One note here, the mixture must contain 51% corn.
2. Mashing: Did you see the pictures of the water? That is limestone water. A mash is created when the ground grains are cooked in Kentucky limestone water. The mash would remind you of oatmeal. Mash is then transferred to vats where it will ferment.
3. Backset: Also known as sourmash, a little bit of yesterday’s mash is added to the vats. This helps with consistency in flavor.
4. Fermentation: Yeast is added and it changes the sugars into alcohol. Distiller’s Beer comes to be over the next few days – it’s thick and only (approximately) 6% alcohol.
5. Distillation: The Distiller’s Beer is then distilled. Vapors of alcohol move to the tops of the stills where they are gathered and condensed. Then, this is re-distilled. After this, you have a product called new make, which is approximately 138 proof. Although, to be considered bourbon it must be at or less than 160 proof.
6. Barrel Time: Bourbon must be barreled at 125 proof or less. To bring the new make down to this level, pure Kentucky limestone water is added. Barrels must be newly charred oak barrel.
7. Maturation: aka – we wait! Barrels are stored in rick houses to age. The aging process typically takes anywhere from 4 to 20 years. As the natural temperatures cause the wood of the barrel to swell and condense, natural flavors from the barrel itself.

 

Bourbon water! Another rick house... The Bourbon Still!

Mash Tubs!

Some facts about Bourbon:

  • Kentucky is responsible for 95% of the world’s supply of bourbon.
  • The bourbon industry creates over 15,000 jobs for residents of Kentucky every year – in fact it produces approximately $3 billion dollars.
  • Since 1999, bourbon production has increased by almost 200%.
  • Since new barrels are required for bourbon production, what happens to a barrel after it’s used? It likely ends up in Scotland. Yep, that’s right! There it’s used for aging of other spirits.
  • In order to be considered straight bourbon, it must be aged for at least 2 years. However, just bourbon is not required to be any certain age.
  • Kentucky distilleries pay over $14 million per year in property taxes to store their aging barrels.
  • Bourbon that hasn’t aged at all is called white dog.

Side note: Have you ever heard of a bourbon-nado? Check it out here!

Places to Visit: Coming to Kentucky in the near future? Need a place to learn more about bourbon? Check out the many places along the Bourbon and Urban Bourbon trails and get your very own Kentucky hug!