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October 20, 2013

27 CFR Chapter 1 §5.22(1-6) or, American Whiskey [CBD]

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It is a measure of the seriousness with which we consider booze that there are carefully written legal definitions of literally everything we drink (If you click on that link, you may discover a typical case of government overreach -- the US government, in its infinite wisdom, has defined Irish Whiskey).

Of course the only important definitions are for those quintessentially American spirits: Bourbon, Rye, Corn and Straight Whisky.


And yes, yes, gin is quite important, but let's give American gin a few years before we steal it from the Brits and make it our own.

Bourbon is undoubtedly the most popular American spirit, ignoring vodka, which all sentient drinkers should do at every opportunity. But Rye is fast becoming popular, in part because of the increasing popularity of cocktails, in part because it is often (but decreasingly) less expensive than its big brother, and also because damn! it tastes good! Bourbons can be cloyingly sweet and rich, but Ryes tend to be spicier and leaner. One of my favorites, Bulleit Rye, has a wonderful and delicate hint of cinnamon.

Straight Whisky seems to be a catch-all term, often used by distillers who respect the tradition of calling a Whisky, "Bourbon," only when it is made in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

We are in the midst of a tremendous revitalization of American distilling, with small operations popping up seemingly everywhere. It follows hard on the heels of the return of American craft beer-making, which has improved all of our lives.

At the risk of sounding like an ingrate, one of the problems with this renaissance is that some of the distillers aggressively differentiate their products by pursuing particular, sometimes odd flavors in their Whiskies. Some of the newer brands are priced outside of any relationship with their quality, but because they are "interesting" or, God forbid, "unique," they command ridiculous prices.

On the other side of that coin are the grandmasters of Bourbon, led by Pappy Van Winkle. These are mainstream Bourbons that are meticulously made, and aged for a very long time. There are no odd, novel, or "interesting" flavors in these masterpieces...just great Bourbon. And, unfortunately for most of us, they come at a price that can easily hit four digits.

Of course you could expropriate a few dozen cases (if it was a Moron....call me; let's talk).

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posted by Open Blogger at 02:31 PM

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