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View Full Version : How do you answer "what is bourbon, anyway"



Dave_in_Canada
03-18-2004, 11:22
Most of my friends know I'm a fanatic for bourbon so they've already heard the LONG version. And on a good night, we can go on and on for hours.

But sometimes I'm asked by a new acquaintance "what exactly is bourbon, anyways". I don't want to give them the long story in an effort not to become the bore of the party. I know how I answer the question, but I'm curious how you cover the topic, in two sentences or less. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Paradox
03-18-2004, 11:28
Well, unless they are from Mars or something I take it for granted they know its alcohol and all that. So I basically tell them its made from 3 grains; corn, rye (or wheat) and barley malt which is turned into a mash, fermented and then distilled. It is aged in new white oak barrels that have been charred which is gives bourbon its unique color and characteristics. That's about it... Sometimes I throw in how JD is NOT bourbon and I throw in a bad wrap about scotch but since that would be 3 lines, it doesnt count here. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

tdelling
03-18-2004, 14:00
I find that when people want a very short answer to something, especially
with a "what is..." question, they don't really want to know why bourbon
A is different than bourbon B. They want to know why bourbon is different
than, say, chardonnay. So forget all about rye vs. wheat mashbills.

When I first asked myself "what is bourbon?", I had no idea what the
definition of whiskey was! New charred oak barrels or used barrels?
Forget about it! Just the fact that it was aged in barrels at all
was news to me! I thought bourbon might have red wine it! Or maybe
it was flavored like gin by soaking herbs and spices in it... I was
clueless.

So I answer as follows:
Bourbon is American whiskey. You ferment up grains like corn and rye, distill
it, and then it's aged to perfection in oak barrels.

Tim Dellinger

scotchyjr
03-18-2004, 14:23
Well, unless they are from Mars or something I take it for granted they know its alcohol and all that. So I basically tell them its made from 3 grains; corn, rye (or wheat) and barley malt which is turned into a mash, fermented and then distilled. It is aged in white oak barrels that have been charred which is gives bourbon its unique color and characteristics. That's about it... Sometimes I throw in how JD is NOT bourbon and I throw in a bad wrap about scotch but since that would be 3 lines, it doesnt count here. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif



I'm curious about that bad wrap against scotch. What bad things would you say about it?

Dave_in_Canada
03-18-2004, 14:47
ohhhhhh... you may not want to go there http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

kitzg
03-18-2004, 15:30
Dave, in addition to the fine advice given here you might want to point out that is the official U.S. whiskey/spirit and the only spirit that uses new white oak -- then charred.

But agreed if you go overboard they think you are being a wise guy and that you've told them how a watch works when they only wanted the time.


"America's true spirit distilled from corn & other grains and aged in charred, new white oak barrels for at least four years" probably will do.

Dave_in_Canada
03-18-2004, 15:39
I also like to add that its pureness is protected by law in that it cannot contain additives nor flavourings... but that always takes me into my third sentence! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

TNbourbon
03-18-2004, 15:55
Well, if I've already had a drink, and am feeling a bit lyrical, I might describe it something like:
Bourbon is a warm friend for a cool night, or a cool drink for a warm friend.

Fortunately, I never drink that much and don't get lyrical often.

jeff
03-18-2004, 16:17
How about: "Bourbon, it's what's for dinner"

Dave_in_Canada
03-18-2004, 16:40
"Bourbon, it's what's for dinner"



Good one. For me it's the appetizer and then straight to dessert. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

cowdery
03-18-2004, 17:37
No. "Bourbon--It's not just for breakfast anymore." or maybe "Bourbon, Breakfast of Champions."

Or simply: "Bourbon, the pinnacle of man's pleasure."

Paradox
03-18-2004, 18:36
"Bourbon, Breakfast of Champions."



I was gonna make a comment about that, but after a 2nd thought, I'm not gonna say a thing! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

jeff
03-18-2004, 19:13
Have a bourbon and a smile! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

timberwolf
03-18-2004, 23:16
Got Bourbon? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

gr8erdane
03-19-2004, 07:07
I just say:

Bourbon is whiskey made in the United States from several grains but predominantly corn and aged in new charred oak barrels until it's bottled. It's all natural with no artificial colorings or flavors.

That's two sentences and covers most of it I think. If they want more details, they can ask.

kitzg
03-19-2004, 07:10
Well the third sentence might be useful in this case.

kitzg
03-19-2004, 08:11
I wrote:

"America's true spirit distilled from corn & other grains and aged in charred, new white oak barrels for at least four years" probably will do.




I wrote it that way because "any respectable bourbon" (my opinion) I know is aged at least 4 years and labeled that way. I realize bourbon can technically be aged 2 years. I think most that I drink are at least 7 years old.

So technically I stand corrected if we want to declare the official definition of bourbon. Maybe I should amend my statement to "... and most decent bourbon is aged at least four years.'

Some people think that bourbon might be inferior http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/hot.gif to scotches because so many single malts are aged so much longer. But it takes a lot longer for a scotch to draw much out of an already used barrel in cooler climate.

For goodness sake -- I'm just jabbering away here!

tlsmothers
03-20-2004, 15:53
Bourbon is a warm friend for a cool night, or a cool drink for a warm friend.


Can I quote you on that one? I like it.

tlsmothers
03-20-2004, 16:01
"Bourbon, the pinnacle of man's pleasure."

Hey, the pinnacle of many of us wo-man's pleasure, too. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

cowdery
03-20-2004, 19:29
My sincere apology.

tlsmothers
03-20-2004, 20:08
No apology needed. Just ribbin' ya a little.

Black85L98
03-20-2004, 20:45
"American whisky made mostly from corn. Here try some."

or

"It's not Scotch"

Most do not care about the whole story.

TNbourbon
03-20-2004, 21:15
Steal away! (If there's ever any money in it, though, know that I've archived this post. I'll sue! Kidding, kidding!)

idpa2000
03-21-2004, 14:54
Or simply: "Bourbon, the pinnacle of man's pleasure."


That says it all!

rccoulter
03-23-2004, 09:54
Don't tell them anything! Walk away. Or better yet--Lie. Tell them the only real bourbon is Jack Daniels and everything else is crap. And for God's sake don't even mention Rye.

I'm sick and tired of finding a new favorite and having it disappear from the shelves the next month.

Everyone here is grandfathered in, but no newbies!

I realize this goes contrary to the general spirit of this board, but I'm miffed that I can't find anymore Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/hot.gif (So much so that I just broke a personal rule and used an emoticon)