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!
This article contains affiliate links.
What are you drinking?
Rich’s Drink: Coffee
Justin’s Drink: Seltzer
What is whiskey?
– Fermented grains that is then distilled
– fermenting using yeast
– distilling using heat (ETOH becomes steam at a lower boiling point)
– 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
– 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
– Batched…or not
– Poured through a coarse screen to filter chunks of wood
– Filtered vs “Non-Chill Filtered” or “Non-Charcoal Filtered”
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
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 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
– 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
– 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
Barrel or Cask Strength
– batched and bottled without proofing OR proofed to originally barreled proof
– exact terminology varies
– 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)
– drop or two of water?
– Glencairn or rocks glass?
– Old Fashioned (Justin & Rich’s favorite)
– Mint Julep, Manhattan, Boulevardier, etc.
– “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!