This week I want to provide five bourbon fun facts that I find pretty darn interesting.
The official state drink of Kentucky
Kentucky is known for bourbon production and, arguably, produces some of the finest bourbon whiskey in the world. Currently, production levels are at an all-time high, and there is no sense of slowing down. Kentucky has ninety distilleries and is a nine-billion-dollar industry for the state. Kentucky produces approximately ninety-five percent of all the bourbon produced. Therefore, it is only logical that since June of 2005, the official drink of the state of Kentucky has been, you guessed it, Milk.
Since June of 2005, Milk has been designated and named the official state drink of Kentucky.
Why finish with French Oak
French Oak contains more tannins than American Oak. While both are from the same wood family, American Oak is more aromatic and includes sweeter tastes like vanilla. A tannin is a natural acid-like chemical compound found in tree sap. Tannins can remain dormant in dry wood but will reactivate when becoming wet. Therefore, it makes sense that using French Oak to finish a bourbon will impart dramatically different flavor profiles.
I remember the first bourbon tour I experienced when the tour guide discussed barrels with Alligator Char. Over time, I realized that a number four char was a standard in the industry and called alligator char. Some distillers used a number three char and occasionally a number one or two. When you hear these numbers, it is hard to qualify what they mean. A number four char barrel will burn for 55 seconds, while a number three char will burn for 35 seconds. Level two will burn for 30 seconds and number one for only 15 seconds. These are the differences in burn time between the four most utilized barrel chars.
There are six major types of corn grown annually. Dent corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, flint corn, and sweet corn make up the six major varieties. Dent corn, or field corn, is used for many products, including bio-fuel, flour, grits, oil, and animal feeds, and has a higher starch but less sweet character. Harvesting Dent corn is performed once the kernels are mature and dry, versus harvesting fresh corn for sweet corn. While exceptions exist, bourbon whiskey uses Number Two Yellow Dent Corn. By the way, Dent corn contains a dent in the crown of each kernel.
Aging in the bottle
Wine will continue to age in the bottle, and some beers will also. However, whiskey stops aging when it loses contact with the barrel’s wood. Beer and wine get their alcohol content through fermentation. Because extending fermentation can harm the product, wine, and beer are bottled at a lower alcohol content. The lower alcohol content allows compounds created during fermentation to continue developing or aging once bottled. Whiskey stops aging once placed in the bottle and will remain in the same state for many years if not opened. Once opened, the whiskey is subject to air, and oxidation can begin changing the flavor. Whiskey that is open and exposed to air for an extended period can become flat and flavorless.
Five Bourbon Fun Facts
I hope you enjoyed these five bourbon facts and join me in wondering why the state drink of Kentucky is milk?
Merry Christmas Everyone
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season. Enjoy a bourbon with family and friends and take a moment this season to just relax. Want to see a crazy straight whiskey seasoned with Frankincence and Myrrh? No kidding, watch it HERE.