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ATP Podcast E045: Bourbon – America’s Native Spirit!

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Welcome back to the Across The Peak Podcast, the show Where Rich and Justin discuss preparedness, the birds and the bees, guns, history, tattoos, and… well, basically all the stuff your old man shoulda taught you! After a four-year silence we are re-releasing the ATP archive, including this brand new episode: Across The Peak Episode 045: Bourbon – America’s Native Spirit!

Bourbon – America’s Native Spirit!

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What are you drinking?

Rich’s Drink: Coffee
Justin’s Drink: Seltzer


What is whiskey?
– Fermented grains that is then distilled
– fermenting using yeast

Mash fermenting in an open-topped fermenter.

– distilling using heat (ETOH becomes steam at a lower boiling point)

The column still at Old Forester’s Whiskey Row location.

– Barley, wheat, and rye are common
– Whisky vs. Whiskey spelling
– Aged, otherwise known as “white dog” or “new make”
– Aged in barrels, barrels stored in rickhouses
– Where whiskey gets its character, color, vanillins, and caramel notes
– Ages vary considerably
– Position in the rickhouse influences individual barrels – higher = higher proof, faster aging, lower = slower aging and lower proof

What is Bourbon?

– Protected product by act of congress
Made in the USA (Maine to San Diego, Miami to Juneau, or even Hawaii, but it has to the under the stars and stripes)
51% or greater corn in the mashbill
– Some “for instances”:
Bulleit’s mashbill is 68% corn, 4% barley, and 28% rye (high rye associated with spiciness)
Elijah Craig’s mashbill is  78% corn, 12% barley, 10% rye  (high corn associated with buttery/creamy flavor)
Maker’s Mark’s mashbill is 40% corn, 14% barley, 16% wheat (wheat associated with smoothness)
Hudson Whiskey’s Bright Lights, Big Bourbon is 95% corn, 5% barley
– mashbill exceeding 80% corn is bourbon, but also meets the definition of corn whiskey

Hudson Whiskey’s “Bright Lights, Big Bourbon” has a mash bill containing 95% corn. Such a high corn mashbill makes this product good but somewhat one-dimensional.

– barley is typical “filler” grain, rye associated with spicier notes (Basil Haydens), wheat associated with smooth drinking bourbon (Pappy, Weller)
Aged in new, charred oak barrels
Distilled to no more than 160 proof (80%), barreled at no higher than 125 proof (62.5%)
Bottled no less than 80 proof
– must not contain any additives

Elijah Craig: The Man, The Myth, The Legend
– Baptist Preacher
– Accidentally discovered aging

The Name “Bourbon”
– Bourbon Street, NOLA?
– Bourbon County, KY?
– Most likely House of Bourbon, the French Dynasty


– Proofed
– Batched…or not
– Poured through a coarse screen to filter chunks of wood
– Filtered vs “Non-Chill Filtered” or “Non-Charcoal Filtered”

According to its label, Rabbit Hole products are “NEVER chill filtered, as it SHOULD be.”


Old Forester was the first bourbon to be bottled in clear glass. This was to combat the “rectifiers” and so customers could see what they were getting.

Other Bourbon Expressions

Bourbon comes in a lot of varieties. Many of these statements on the bottle mean things. Here’s a quick overview of some of them.

Straight Bourbon Whiskey
– Must be aged a minimum of 2 years
– Aged less than 4, must contain an age statement of the youngest whiskey in the bottle

Weller Special Reserve, an very good “Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey,” if you can find it. This  has become very difficult to come by.

Bottled in Bond
– Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897
– Made in a bonded distillery under U.S. Gov supervision
– distilled in one season at a single distillery
– Aged a minimum of 4 years
– 100 proof

A Bottled in Bond bourbon. These are becoming very popular. I was able to purchase this coveted bottle of Old Fitz at a bourbon lottery.

Sour Mash
– a portion of the mash is carried over to start the next batch, similar to sourdough bread
– The alternative, standard method is known as “sweet mash”
– can have a tangier flavor as a result

New Riff is a sour mash bourbon (their rye whiskey is sour mash, as well). It is also Bottled in Bond, Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, and it is unfiltered.

Single Barrel
– Each bottle is from a single barrel
– Can be hit or miss, can get “GREAT” bottles and “just good” bottles, less consistency than batched expressions

Blanton’s, the original single barrel. As a trivia note there are eight different horses on top of Blanton’s bottles. Good luck collecting all of them!

Small Batch
– No legal definition
– Elijah Craig Small Batch is batched less than 200, 53-gallon barrels at a time vs. Widow Jane’s 5 or fewer 53-gallon barrels per batch

Michter’s US-1 is a small batch bourbon, batched in 20 barrels, max.

Barrel or Cask Strength
– batched and bottled without proofing OR proofed to originally barreled proof
– exact terminology varies

Benchmark Full Proof is a barrel proof. Though the proof doubtlessly exceeded 125 during aging, it was proofed back to the proof it was at when it entered the barrel.

Storing Bourbon

– Once its in the glass it isn’t “aging” anymore
– store indefinitely in a cool, dark place
– protect from light
– Once opened, drink within two years
– Once drank down to the halfway point, drink within a year (surface area and oxidation)

Drinking Bourbon

– Neat
– drop or two of water?
– Glencairn or rocks glass?

– Old Fashioned (Justin & Rich’s favorite)
– Mint Julep, Manhattan, Boulevardier, etc.

One of Justin’s famous Old Fashioned cocktails made with 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters, 3/4 ounce maple syrup, 2 1/4 ounces 100-proof bourbon, a Maraschino cherry, and an orange peel. Feel free to modify this recipe as you see fit!


A Manhattan cocktail, built by Justin’s good friend Neil.

– “Kentucky Tea” style ala Booker’s?

Your Favorite Bourbons?

Here are some of our favorite bottles. Do the right thing, guys – don’t make these impossible to find after we gave them the ol’ ATP bump!

Our favorite $15 – 20 bottle: Evan Williams “green and white label,” bottle-in-bond

Favorite $25 bottles: Jim Beam’s Old Tub, which is a close second to the next one.

Wild Turkey 101 goes for $25-30 but punches way above its weight class.

Our favorite $40 bottle is Knob Creek 9. This is one of my favorite bourbons, period.

Favorite “splurge” bottle: Rich likes Baker’s at $50-60

I really like Widow Jane at around $80.


Book of the Week

Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey by Fred Minnick


Hindsight/Behind the Scenes

Don’t get too excited, guys – the band isn’t back together yet. This is a one-off, and one we thought would be a lot of fun to record. We hope y’all enjoy it!

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