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OTHER ITA SITES:
The Types of Whiskey: Round Three
Friends, Romans, Whiskey Lovers. After drinking in round one and round two of our whiskey lesson, we move onto the third and final round: American Whiskey. Now, it may seem that it’s a patriotic ploy on my part to dedicate an entire article to American Whiskey – particularly when whiskies from other countries shared pages with each other – but I assure you it is only due to the vastness American Whiskey contains. Hey, if you don’t believe me, take it up with Jim and Jack.
American Whiskey comes in both blended and straight forms. Both types possess individual rules and regulations and, perhaps most importantly, unique tastes.
Tennessee Whiskey: A Gemini, this whiskey hails from its namesake and enjoys long walks on the beach and being made of corn. Tennessee Whiskey is similar to Bourbon in composition, at least fifty one percent must be maize based. It must then be aged in new barrels, usually for at least four years.
The main difference between Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey is that the latter is put through a filtering method called the Lincoln County Process. During this process, whiskey is filtered through a maple charcoal prior to aging. Ultimately, this gives Tennessee Whiskey a flavor that is highly removed from Bourbon. Today, Jack Daniels and George Dickel are the two Tennessee Whiskeys available.
Bourbon: Typically known as Kentucky’s drink, Bourbon must be made up of at least 51 percent corn, but usually contains near 70 percent. The remaining ingredients include wheat, malted barely, or rye. Many Bourbons are aged for four years, but, by law, they must be aged for at least two years to be considered “Straight."
Presently, the vast majority of Bourbon is made in Kentucky. It can, however, be made anywhere it is not illegal to distill spirits. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia all serve as states where Bourbon was once produced. The latter, Virginia, still produces some on occasion.
Corn Whiskey: The corniest whiskey around, corn whiskey is composed of at least 80 percent maize (no, this does not count towards the food pyramid's required servings of vegetables). The Dick Clark of whiskey, Corn Whiskey does not have to age. If it is aged, the aging is short, usually around six months.
This aging, or lack there of, is the main difference between Bourbon and Corn Whiskey. Bourbon must be aged in charred, new barrels whereas Corn Whiskey – if it’s aged – must be placed in either used barrels, or uncharred oak barrels.
Moonshine: It’s hard to think about Prohibition without thinking about Moonshine. Slang for alcohol distilled at home, Moonshine likely got its name from being made, delivered, and distributed under darkness, when law enforcement wasn’t as vigilant. During times when alcohol was outlawed, Moonshine was particularly popular and smuggled into homes and businesses.
Typically thought of as a very strong spirit, Moonshine is made when sugar is fermented by yeast and ethanol is produced. The alcohol is then separated through distillation. Since the process was initially illegal, Moonshine wasn’t usually aged and sometimes contained toxins and lacked purity. Presently, it is still produced, mainly in Virginia.
So, there you have it. Go out and order Bourbon or a Jim Beam (try to stay away from the Moonshine) and make whiskey your own. Except if our paths cross: in that case, buy a round for me and make whiskey my own.
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