Bourbon is more than just a drink; it’s a way of life. And nowhere is that more true than in Kentucky, the home of bourbon. For centuries, Kentuckians have been perfecting the art of making bourbon, and today, they produce some of the highest quality bourbon in the world. Here are 5 features that make Kentucky bourbon the best in the world:
- The Water
Kentucky’s water is essential to making great bourbon. The state has an abundance of fresh water sources, including the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, which provide distillers with the perfect water for making bourbon. The limestone-filtered water of Kentucky is rich in minerals, which give the region’s bourbon its unique flavor.
- The Climate
Kentucky’s climate is also ideal for making bourbon. The state has hot summers and cold winters, which help the whiskey age properly. The extreme temperature changes cause the pores in the barrels to open and close, allowing the whiskey to seep into the wood and take on its flavor.
- The Mash Bill
A mash bill is a recipe for making whiskey, and Kentucky distillers take their mash bills very seriously. Most bourbons are made with a mash bill of at least 51% corn, but some distilleries use up to 79% corn in their mash bills. The high percentage of corn gives Kentucky bourbons their characteristic sweetness.
- The Barrels
All bourbons must be aged in new oak barrels, but Kentucky distillers take it a step further by using oak barrels that have been charred on the inside. This charring process helps to extract more flavor from the wood, giving bourbon its distinctive taste.
- The Proof
The proof of a whiskey is how much alcohol it contains; most bourbons are around 80 proof (40% alcohol). Some higher-end bourbons are proofed even higher, up to 100 proof (50% alcohol). A higher proof means that there is more alcohol present to extract flavors from the barrel, resulting in a richer flavor profile.
There are many factors that go into making great bourbon, but these five are what make Kentucky bourbon some of the best in the world. So next time you’re looking for a high-quality bourbon, be sure to look for one that comes from Kentucky!