Bourbon whiskey is synonymous with Kentucky but in actual fact can be produced anywhere in the United States. The distinctive flavour profile of Bourbon is characterised by a number of regulations that govern the particulars of its production. The Mash Bill must contain between 51 and 80% Corn, with the remaining grain requirements generally including malted barley, wheat and rye and the sprit must be filled into new American oak barrels at a strength of 62.5%abv. After 2 years of maturation it may be termed as “Straight Whiskey” and any maturation time under 4 years must be stated on the label.
The use of heavily charred new oak for maturation has a profound influence on Bourbon’s character with the natural sugars, enhanced during charring, and vanillin within the wood imparting dense sweetness, heady vanilla and rich toffee notes to many Bourbons. The majority of the well-known Bourbon brands throughout the world are produced in Kentucky and the state’s climate further influences the final product. This combination of highly active oak and fluctuating temperatures matures the spirit at a far greater speed to that of Scotch, and means that Bourbons of great age are only rarely encountered. However, as anyone who has tasted the2008 27yo Parkers Hertiage Collection Release will tell you, there are of course some notable exceptions!