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A Spontaneous Libation for your Consideration

From the Knowledge Vault

Making Bourbon

This is the fourth in a series on Bourbon by Zach Pearson. Read them all: Bourbon, Bourbon After the Act, Bourbon: What it is ... and isn't, Making Bourbon, Who Makes My Bourbon, Producer Capsules., Finding the Good Stuff, Tasting the Good Stuff, Neat, Mashbills, Geeky Information and Resources.

This is really pretty simple. A distiller buys grains off the commodity market: corn, wheat, rye, whatever their recipe demands. They also buy malted barley from a supplier; none of the large Bourbon distillers grow their own grains or malt their own barley. Each grain is milled into meal, which takes specialized equipment for each grain, then everything is cooked together, with the addition of each grain happening at a different temperature. Starch to sugar conversion is allowed to take place (due to the enzymes in the malted barley), then fermentation is started, typically with a secret yeast strain. After this, everything is dumped into a column still, where a first distillation happens. This liquid (at about 80 proof) is pumped into a doubler still where a second distillation takes it to between 110 and 150 proof. The spent grain, historically fed to pigs is removed from the still and a portion of it is used to “sour” the next batch of grain, ensuring proper pH for yeast growth.

Recent Additions

  • Black Bird — Cognac, Limoncello, Crème de Violette, Orange bitters, Ginger syrup
  • Italian 75 — Gin, Limoncello, Tonic water, Lemon juice
  • Pea Flower Cocktail — Gin, Orange liqueur, Bianco Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, Tea
  • Wyoming Summer — Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, Chambord, Lemon juice
  • Long Weekend — Old Tom Gin, Amaro Meletti, Bianco Vermouth

Recent Discussion

  • Re Schwartzwald, 9 hours 11 minutes ago Shawn C commented:

    Note: I cut the lemon juice from 3/4 to 1/2 oz--personal preference as I find many lemon/lime cocktails a little too acidic/astringent. The adjustment worked well for me. The Amaro Lucano augments the Black Balsams difficult to characterize ester aroma and flavor, yielding kola, slightly bitter dark berry, and citrus flavors. Well balanced and semi-dry, this one grew on me as I sipped and the glass warmed.

  • Re Wabash Cannonball, 14 hours ago Mixin In Ansley commented:

    Agree on the lemon cut back, but great fall drink.

  • Re Southern Exposure, 13 hours ago jhollist99 commented:

    Well balanced and approachable. Excellent cold weather beverage.
    Recommended Changes
    3oz - Bourbon Widow Jane 10 Year
    1/2 oz - Sweet Vermouth (same)
    1/2 oz - Ancho Reyes - adds a nice spice factor
    1/4 oz - Creme de Cacao (same)
    3 ds of Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters ... just my preference to balance with the increase Ancho Reyes

  • Re World's Fair, 3 days ago Craig E commented:

    Curated to clean up including adding creator. Thanks @yarm!

  • Re Brooklynite, 3 days ago yarm commented:

    "Some include a dash of Angostura bitters." The earliest recipes in The Stork Club (1946) and Trader Vic's Bartender Guide (1946) both do. And the one I spotted in Unvarnished (2020) does to. Only Imbibe Magazine leaves it out.

    Very similar to the Honeysuckle and Honey Bee (both recipes appear in Embury) which both have lemon juice but have white rum and Jamaican rum, respectively.