Bourbon is a distinction of whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbons. Bourbon is the product of grains, mostly corn, yeast and water. In order for a whiskey to be considered a proper bourbon, there are a few standards that it must meet.
-Must be produced in the U.S.
-Must be made of a grain mix of at least 51 percent corn
-Must be distilled at less than 160 proof (80 percent ABV)
-Must have no additives (except water to reduce proof, if necessary)
-Must be aged in new, charred white oak barrels
-Must be aged for a minimum of two years (a bourbon must meet this specific requirement if it is to be considered a “Straight Bourbon”)
Maker’s Mark– Lots of caramel and vanilla on the nose. Charred, like grilled wheat and corn. Really complex, grilled wood and smoke are huge flavors but notes of stone fruits also come out to play. Very acidic but a pleasant spiciness. This is a staple for me when it comes to brown spirits.
Bulleit Bourbon– Sweet and spicy with a lot of peaches and pears. Charred wood and grilled vegetables, with hints of cocoa and caramel as well. Really well-rounded and smooth. Fairly dry, with a very low acidity and a nice spice that lingers for a long time.
Hudson Baby Bourbon– A huge amount of chocolate and caramel on the nose as soon as it’s poured into the glass. Really timid but full of interesting flavors and scents. Dark chocolate and vanilla bean, with grilled peaches as well. Lots of acidity with a bit of a spicy kick at the end, but this levels out with a lingering sweet and buttery aftertaste.
Wild Turkey 81– Honey and caramel on the nose, with a light smokeyness as well. Really delicate flavors, light, crisp and very dry. Very low acidity, with lots of grilled corn and warm cereal notes. Smoked apples and pears. This is a gentle bourbon and would be great for a first time brown spirits drinker.
Wild Turkey 101– The 101 definitely has a lot more complexity and character than the 81, but both are incredible. Lots of grilled wood and smoke, with notes of apple pie and cinnamon. Buttered popcorn and browned butter. Very warming and silky, and virtually no burn. An aftertaste of burnt cherries is very pleasant.