Bourbon whiskey is produced in the United States (Bourbon County, Kentucky) and is extremely liked for its unique caramel flavor. It is said that the grain, the yeast, the fresh barrels from white oak and their storage have the maximum influence on the taste of bourbon. A great part of bourbon whiskey comprises of corn, which accounts for at least a minimum of 51% of the whiskey. In many cases, the corn part of bourbon is even higher, lying somewhere between 60%-80%. Explore this article to know how to make bourbon whiskey.
Making Bourbon Whisky
- Indian Corn
- Spring Water
- Ground Rye
- Barley Malt
- Charred White Oak Barrel
- The first step is to grind the Indian corn into cornmeal (Bourbon whiskey must contain 51% of corn). The meal is then mixed with limestone, spring water and cooked at a high temperature, in a mash tub.
- Ground rye is to be added for the second cooking, after lowering the temperature of the distiller. Then, barley malt is added for a third round of cooking, after lowering the temperature once again. Once the cooking part is over, the mash is cooled to 55-60 degrees, to prepare it for fermentation.
- The mash is fermented in large tubs, by adding yeast in it. Earlier the tubs used for fermentation were made of Cyprus wood, but now stainless steel is more commonly used. During the fermentation process, the grain sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The fermentation period extends to 3-4 days and thereafter, the mash is distilled.
- Now, the alcohol is to be separated from the mash, by heating the latter and collecting the vapors. This process is called distillation. For the purpose of heating, the mash is moved into a series of stills. The vapors are collected as the mash heats, and then cooled for converting it back into liquid form. The spent mash is not needed for producing bourbon anymore and is mostly used as animal feed or making sour mash.
- Most of the bourbon whiskey is distilled for a second time, for quality improvement and producing a higher-proof spirit. The second time, smaller stills are used in the distillation, while the same process is used for distillation. The resulting spirits, after the second distillation, are called high wines" or "white dog." The newly distilled whiskey comes out to be crystal clear.
- The aging process of bourbon takes place in a new, charred white oak barrel and this lends it a caramel flavor and an amber color. The barrel is filled, closed and taken to a warehouse for storage. The barrels expands and contracts, following the seasonal temperature changes. This causes the bourbon to flow into the wood itself, imparting it the color and flavor. Bourbon whiskey should be aged for a minimum of 2 years.