Bourbon: More Fun Than I Expected. Also, There Was A Cave.
Spoiler Alert if you go on multiple whiskey tours, you can expect to hear all of the following items in any given six of eight. I don't want to ruin anyone's fun. I simply loved the way the points came up over and over and want to share my glee. The best part: the little distinctions each distillery made to give their product qualities no one else would have.
Things I Know That I Never Knew Before:
All bourbon is whiskey, not all whiskeys are bourbon.
"grain to glass" is better except when it doesn't matter.
yeast, grain, water and time make whiskey.
Local grains all the way. Except when it doesn't matter.
Kentucky is the best place to make bourbon because of the water because it's naturally limestone filtered, which means no iron in that water. Nowhere else in the world has that. /sarcasm
Hot in the summer, cold in the winter. That's also unique.
"Angel's share" is a lovely way to say "liquid volume lost to evaporation"
When barrels are stored the bung, spelled B-U-N-G, has to be at the top for easy access.
"White Dog" "High Wine" "White Lightning"
Some like wheat, some like rye, but the recipes all have corn and malted barley
Malting is the fancy way of saying "germinated until it just splits open."
You'll get the "straight bourbon" basics every time because the guvmint done regulated the bourbon in 1964. Some guides will mention that the bourbon industry pushed that legislation through Congress, others will intimate that it was a move engineered by those meddling bureaucrats.
Bourbon must be:
made in the USA
made from a recipe that contains 51% minimum corn.
distilled up to a maximum of 160 proof
aged minimum 2 years -- if aged less than 4 years, label must reflect exact age
aged in virgin oak barrels charred on the inside
unadulterated: nothing can be added other than grain and water before being barreled for aging.
can't go into the barrel any higher than 125 proof
must be bottled at a minimum 80 proof
A bunch of other details were evidently alcohol-soluble and were washed away by the tastings.