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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

American Whiskey

Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Must be made in the USA However it does not have to be made in Bourbon County (a good job as there are no distilleries Bourbon county)  It must be made with a minimum of 51% corn the other grains can be unspecified. Also it must be aged for a minimum of two years in new charred oak casks.


The term "Straight" applies to the spirit being distilled at no more than 80%ABV and not exceeding 62.5% at the start of the aging process which is for a minimum of 2 years

Bourbon, Corn, Rye, Wheat Whiskey, Tennessee, Small Batch,

Moonshine, US Micro or Craft Distillers


Tennessee Whiskies

Apart from the location the prime difference between Bourbons and Tennessee whiskies such as Jack Daniels - George Dickel is that maple charcoal filtering is used to filter the spirit in the latter.


The whiskey is trickled very slowly through 10 feet of hard maple charcoal, right after distillation.  It's this extra step in the whiskey-making process that makes Jack Daniel’s more than a bourbon...and provides the special character known only to Tennessee Whiskey.  This mellowing process is accomplished by the use of hard maple charcoal that they produce in a very special and traditional way.


Jack Daniel's is called a Tennessee whiskey because it does not quite comply with federal requirements (Corn Content) to be labeled a Bourbon and also Jack Daniels is proud of its state of origin.

Corn Whiskey 

Must contain at least 51% corn most corn distillers use upward of 70% with the remaining 30% small grains determined by the whiskies recipe this can include rye, the traditional second grain or/and wheat or/and malted barley.


A Corn whiskey although having the minimum corn content as a bourbon differs in the length and maturing not to be classed as a bourbon, ie less than two years or in used casks.

Moonshine White Dog, White Lightening

Sometimes the term Corn Whiskey is assosiated with the clear spirit "MoonShine"  Amongst these specific corn whiskeys there is "Shine on Georgia Moon" a clear spirit Claiming to be less than 30 days old before it is bottled in to what can be best described as a Jam jar. I have read one quote "Unless you try this raw product you will never quite appreciate the art of distilling and ageing Bourbon"


As all domestic distillation is highly illegal in the states this clear spirt is as close as there is to a commercially produced "moonshine"  you can find in the UK. With the increase in Micro or Craft distillers more and more proper moonshine is being distilled and we are waiting for it to arrive in the Uk. Latest additions to the UK market include Bufloe Trace White Dog, Arkansas Lightening.

Rye Whiskey

Made from a mash with a minimum of 51% rye grain, most are 51-53% in the mash.It is now rare to find higher rye content.   Rye whiskeys are regarded as delicate yet peppery.

Wheat Whisky

Made from a mash of over 51% of a single type of wheat grain. There is one dedicated wheat brand  "Bernhiem"  and Old Fitzgerald has some high wheat content in some of its bottlings Both part of Heaven Hill Distilleries.

Sour Mash Whiskey

A seemingly peculiar practise for scotch drinkers.


The liquid from the left over mash of fermented cooked grains is added to the mash of grains and yeast ready to make up the next batch.


This brings the character of the previous batch of whiskey into the new batch.This is used to control the acidity of the new mash and create a perfect environment for the temperamental new yeast. almost 100% of American whiskies are sourmash.

Small batch bourbons

As the name suggests only produced in small quantities, by tradition up to only twenty barrels at the most.


The Small Batch Bourbon Collection represents the very best in bourbon, each handcrafted in limited quantities using time-honoured recipes. These special recipes allow each Small Batch Bourbon to be distinctively different. As Booker Noe, Jim Beam's grandson and master distiller emeritus says: "This is bourbon the way it used to be, the way it was meant to be."


This range includes Bakers, Basil Hayden, Bookers and Knob Creek.

US Micro Whiskey Distilleries

A micro-distillery is a small, often referred to as “Artisan” 'boutique' or “craft“, distillery. While the term is most commonly used in the United States, micro-distilleries have been established in Europe, However these pages concentrates on the  USA and Canada whisky producers