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Bourbon whiskey

Bourbon (or "corn whiskey" or "corn liquor") is an American form of whiskey, made from at least 51% maize, or corn (though more typically 70%, with the remainder being wheat, rye, and other grains), distilled to no more than 160 proof, and aged in new charred white oak barrels for at least two years (usually much longer). Most of the time it is then adjusted to 80-100 proof and bottled, although some are bottled at "cask strength."

The name derives from Bourbon County, Kentucky, which was itself named after the French royal family at the time of the American Revolutionary War. Stories about its origins there are not true, such as its purported invention by Baptist minister and distiller Elijah Craig, whose distillery was located in what is today Bourbon county but was not in that county at the time of its supposed invention. The first whiskey distilled in America was actually made in 1621 by George Thorpe, an Episcopal minister, at Berkeley Plantation in Virginia. While today whiskey is made primarily in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, bourbon is an exclusive product of Kentucky.

A further refinement introduced by Scottish chemist Dr. James C. Crow was the "sour mash" process, by which each new fermentation is conditioned with some amount of spent beer (previously fermented mash that has been separated from its alcohol), in much the same way that sourdough bread is made from starter.

[Confer Moonshine.]



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