American Whiskey at the Beginning
We can thank the early settlers of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky coming from Scotland, Ireland, Germany & other countries for having the guts to travel and settle into a new land. The settlers cleared forests to create small self-contained communities in which they carried on their traditions & cultural heritages while adjusting to their new digs. In the early 1700’s the settlers carried on their traditions of distilling using the go to grain of the time, rye. Corn was frowned upon and used to feed the animals early on until they discovered making fermented corn beer and ultimately began drinking that over Strong English style. Once they began distilling the fermented corn it was soon after that they discovered combining the two grains using the corn to sweeten the rye.
Thanks to our early settlers for having the balls to settle & distill in a new land for American Whiskey
George Washington Played a Huge Part in the Early years of American Whiskey
Commander George Washington who ultimately became our first president owned one of the largest distilleries of the time at Mt Vernon and they used a healthy portion of corn in their mash bill while making their Rye whiskey. GW proclaimed that Whiskey was essential to ration out to his troops to keep them comfortable, warm and to keep the spirits high through winter months.
Towards the later part of the 1700’s these initial attempts of corn and rye Whiskeys began to transform to the delicious Whiskeys that we are buying today. At the turn of the century into the early 1800’s charring oak barrels, using healthy amounts of corn and sour mash starters began becoming a standard practice. We can most likely say that this may be the beginning of Bourbon. This process soon after was applied to the making of Rye.
Barrel Aging is a Very Important Component of American Whiskey Making
Really one of the most important pieces of the puzzle in understanding American Whiskey is Oak & barrel aging. All American Whiskey’s are aged in 100% new American oak barrels that have been charred on the inside. This began by using the barrels to hold and store the Whiskey. They would char the inside in order to sterilize the wood before they added the clear whiskey from the still. The barrel ultimately added a beautiful red color and flavors unmistakable to American Whiskey.
American Whiskey Our Gift to the World
Americans distilled many kinds of Whiskey consisting of Rye, Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Corn Whiskey & Blended Whiskey. This is all due to the early settlers of America; their traditions, cultural heritage of their home land as well as their compelling desire and need to create new homes for themselves and their families in a inhabited foreign new land. American Whiskey comes from the ballsy settlers of our country who brought their distilling abilities from there motherland that was passed on from generations by using grains that were in abundance at that time. American Whiskey became what it is today through trial and error, success and failure, beautiful mistakes, changes due to necessities, excise taxes, politics and the bloodshed of war. It is our spirit to the world and a true American gift that gives the flavor and nuance of our countries history in a glass.
Made of 51% corn if not more and supplemented by rye or wheat as well as a small percentage of malted barley. Can be made anywhere in the US and must use new unused charred American Oak barrels.
Made from 51% rye if not more and supplemented by corn as well as a small percentage of malted barley. Can be made anywhere in the US and must use new unused charred American Oak barrels.
Made from 51%-79% corn and supplemented by rye or wheat and malted barley. Must be made in Tennessee.
Made of at least 80% corn
Can be made from any of the above mixed with at least 50% or more neutral grain spirit distilled to 190 proof or higher.
My favorite Uses of American Whiskey Besides Enjoying Neat
2 1/4 oz. Rye or Bourbon whiskey
3/4 oz. Sweet or “red”/“Italian” vermouth
two dashes of Angostura bitters
Stir, and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with either a lemon twist, or a filthy cherry.
NOTE: (Manhattan Club, New York City, circa 1870’s)
The Gold Rush
3/4oz (2-1) honey syrup
3/4oz lemon juice
Shake & Strain over fresh ice into a whiskey glass no garnish necessary
NOTE: (TJ Siegal, Milk & Honey early 2000’s)
The Old Fashioned
1 sugar cube
2 dash Angostura bitters
Barspoon soda water
Place sugar cube in whiskey glass, soak with 2 dash of bitters add barspoon of soda water and muddle to create paste. Add whiskey stir to combine ingredients add block ice stir till cold and garnish with a expressed lemon & orange peel.