Bourbon’s golden sweetness is born from the predominance of corn in the whiskey’s recipe. Rye adds a spicy note, and wheat mellows the blend. Most (if not all) bourbon is made with either rye or wheat, but not both. Barley is added to help the fermentation process along; Kentucky’s pure “blue” water, which has been filtered through layers of limestone, helps the yeast propagate enthusiastically.
While bourbon sales are high in Kentucky, its storied birthplace, the spirit is appreciated across the country and around the world as well. Internationally, the rich tones of American bourbon have begun to challenge the long-favored Scotch and Irish whiskeys.
An increased interest in premium small-batch bourbons has also boosted bourbon sales. Such top-of-the-line bourbons as Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve are developed with the finest ingredients and attention to detail to maximize their distinctive taste and mild finish of honey, caramel and cloves.
A close sibling to bourbon is Tennessee whiskey-the main difference being that the latter is often filtered through sugar maple charcoal after distillation. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 painstakingly filters through charcoal and ages in handcrafted barrels to achieve a mellow, sweet flavor. Though subtle, the flavors set the spirit apart from its bluegrass counterpart.