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SIP&SHARE Collective: Bourbon

Today we attending the next session of our monthly whisky club, featuring bourbon; hosted by Reece of @reecesims.

The Sip&Share Collective is for those who are interested in learning more about whisky, and perhaps don’t know where to start. By joining this informal seminar, guests are able to try different whiskies and share their insights on what they think about each.

Each class is split into 3 parts. The first is a blind tasting, where you don’t know anything about what it is you are trying. But you are given tasting queue to help discern what it is you like about each. Part 2 has guests going through the perception of each of the brands presented. Have you tried it previous to today? And did you like it then versus now? And finally Part 3 has you connecting the dots. Learning about the brand and what it is you are actually tasting. Concluding with a checkain to see if your mind and opinions have changed based on what you had, versus what you have tried?

And in between this hour and a half of small sips, guests are advised to cleanse the palate with gulps of water, bites of chips, or smelling the pit of your elbow.

Today’s class was all about Bourbon. Where I learned what bourbon actually is. Bourbon is exclusively made in the USA, majority of which (95%) comes out of Kentucky. In order to be classified as bourbon the spirit must meet the following 5 criteria. Including being made in the US, bourbon must also have a 51% corn mash bill in its composition, and be aged in brand new charred oak. Bourbon must also be distilled up to 160 proof, for its relatable robust and full bodied flavour. Each bottle should be at 49%ABV+. Bourbon often reads with notes of maple syrup and vanilla, which is richly sweet and buttery.

Drilling down a little deeper: there are 3 subcategories that changes the profile of bourbon. The “Standard mash bill” has the bourbon reading sweet, creamy, and fruity like in desserts with baking spice. Bourbon with “High rye” leaves it peppery in a spicy earthiness with herbaceous notes. And “Wheated” takes out all the rye in bourbon and replaces it with wheat instead. This result leaves you with a lighter bourbon: a sweeter spirit with honey and caramel cereal.

Then to zoom more into your detailed classifications: Bourbon can be further sorted based on their barrels. Specifically level of the char within the barrel, and how long it is lit on fire. The longer the bourbon sits before its flame is eventually extinguished, determines its intensity of flavour. Basically, the more you fire it, the more it’s flavour intensifies. A level 2 Char gives you caramel and nought. An example of this is this Woodford Bourbon. You can’t add colour to bourbon, so this hue is natural by way of the charring process. And Char 3 has the bourbon reminiscent of cocoa, coffee, burnt sugar, clove, and cinnamon.

I won’t be going into detail of each of the bourbons we tried, you will have to attend another such session yourself to learn that. And hopefully this post was enough to having you looking into the next Sip&Share collective to learn more about what it is you sip on or shoot back.

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