《Wines of the World》The Unforgettable Bourbon Whiskey

Americans are passionate, straightforward, direct—all these qualities are reflected in their food culture, and the American Bourbon whiskey is like the blood that runs in their veins, which is also a true reflection of their character.

In fact, the sales and popularity of Bourbon whiskey can rival that of Scotch whisky.

Most American whiskies fall under Bourbon whiskey, and their taste is very different compared to Scotch whiskey. Bourbon whiskies are generally thicker bodied and sweeter in taste due to the ingredients use, and therefore, suitable for beginning drinkers.

First of all, according to US regulations, Bourbon whiskey must be 51% to 79% maize, with the rest of the content being other grains, that’s why when compared with Scotch whisky, which uses whole grain, the sugar content of Bourbon is higher with an increased ‘stickiness’, thus a thicker body.

Secondly, the Bourbon must be aged using brand new and toasted oak barrels, this is the reason why Bourbon whiskies are darker in colour like a hue of amber, with the taste of caramel, coconut and cream. These are the main characteristics of Bourbon whiskey.

Since new oak barrels would cause a strong oaky flavour, so the aging time is generally not too long, and the minimum aging period is 4 years by law. Therefore, the average Bourbon will not have the age statement on the bottle, only some premium Bourbon will do so.

Unfortunately, the choice of Bourbon in Hong Kong is limited, with Jack Daniels being the most recognised brand, which is characterised by its sweetness.

Jack Daniels is in fact a Tennessee whiskey, which is a branch of Bourbon. Jack Daniels contains maple syrup, giving it a darker colour and sweeter taste―a top choice for Bourbon beginners.

If you are looking for premium Bourbon whiskey or one that has an age statement, I would recommend Elijah Craig 12 Year Small Batch. It is one of the few brands that uses small barrels for 12-year aging, resulting in a more complex taste with an evident flavour of apricot and almond, plus a varying and lingering aftertaste.

Four Roses is another brilliant American Bourbon brand with a good structure and strong oaky flavour.

Note that in the US, the alcohol content is word differently―the percentage of alcohol is indicated by the term ‘proof’, such as 80 proof, 94 proof, 100 proof and so on. Simply divide the number by 2, meaning 80 proof is 40% and 100 proof is 50%.

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