to the American continent with the Irish and Scottish
immigrants. As they settled in their new homeland, they
were forced to adapt in many ways including the use of
new raw materials. Over the years a new kind of whiskey
Today there are few if any similarities left between
American whiskey and its cousins the Scottish and Irish
whiskies. For example, no smoke is used to dry the corn,
rye or wheat, which are used in American whiskey.
Because of this, American whiskey often has a fuller,
stronger and sweeter taste than its European
American whiskey is commonly divided into six categories;
Bourbon, Tennessee, Rye, Wheat, Corn and Blended
whiskey. The categories are mainly motivated by
differences in the type and amount of grains used during
the mashing but there are also differences in e.g.
Because of the fact that almost all Bourbon is made in
Kentucky many people believe this is a requirement, but
in fact Bourbon may be produced in any state. The only
prerequisites are that it must be made in the US,
contain at least 51 percent corn and that it must be
stored for at least two years in new, charred oak
barrels. Lastly, the raw spirit may not be distilled to
more than 80 percent alcohol by volume.
Tennessee whiskey is closely related to Bourbon but
there are a few differences; Tennessee whiskey must be
produced in the state of Tennessee and is always
filtered through sugar-maple charcoal. The filtering
process usually takes 10 days to complete. Tennessee
whiskey was recognised as a separate style by US
government officials in 1941.
There are only two active Tennessee Whiskey brands:
Rye and Wheat Whiskey
Only a small amount of Rye whisky is bottled as Straight
Rye Whisky –most of it is used in blending to add
character to other whiskies. To be called a Rye whiskey,
the spirit must be made from at least 51 percent rye,
distilled at less than 80 percent and stored in new,
charred oak barrels for at least two years. Rye whiskey
is slightly more powerful and bitter than Bourbon. Most
current Rye whiskies are made in Indiana and Kentucky.
Wheat whiskey must be made from at least 51 percent of
wheat and is quite uncommon.
Examples of Rye Whiskey:
• Wild Turkey Straight Rye Whiskey
• Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year
• Sazerac Rye Whiskey 18 yr
• Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
• Michters Rye Whiskey
This type of American whiskey was developed due to the
abundant supply of corn, and is a predecessor to Bourbon.
As the name suggests corn is the main ingredient; the
mash must consist of at least 80 percent corn. Another
difference between Corn Whiskey and Bourbon is that Corn
whiskey does not have to be aged in wood. If Corn
Whiskey is to be aged, any maturation must be done in
either un-charred barrels or used Bourbon barrels.
Blended American Whiskey
The blended American Whiskey should not be confused with
the blended Scottish whisky. Blended American whiskey
only contains 20 percent of Rye and Bourbon whiskey; the
remaining 80 percent are made up of a neutral
mass-produced industrial spirit. As a result, American
blended whiskey is very cheap. It is also much lighter
than for example Tennessee and Bourbon whiskies.
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