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Issue 138 - To the Ends of the World

Whisky Magazine Issue 138
September 2016


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To the Ends of the World

Hans takes a look at the other countries where blending is big


It may come as a bit of a surprise, with the exception of some microdistilleries who produce single malt whiskey (with an ‘e') for local markets, but technically all American whiskey is blended whiskey, even Bourbon. However, there is a huge difference with Scottish blends. Where the Scots blend different distillates from different grains after maturation, the American distillers blend the grains before distillation and then mature the ‘white dog', as new-make spirit is called in the USA.

This is how it works. American whiskeys are mostly made of a mixture of different grains, following a specific recipe called a ‘mash bill' in the trade. Predominant grains are corn, rye, wheat and malted barley. Every distillery in the USA uses its own recipes. And remember, not all American whiskey is Bourbon, but all Bourbons are American whiskey.

Most whiskeys in the USA are distilled in two rounds. The first one in a continuous still, here called the ‘beer still'. The second distillation takes place in either a ‘thumper' or ‘doubler', the latter more closely resembling a pot still. There is one exception to the rule: Woodford Reserve Bourbon, which is distilled three times in copper pot stills, manufactured by Forsyth's in Rothes, Scotland. This is unique in the Bourbon industry.

We can distinguish five main types of whiskeys made in the USA.

Bourbon whiskey: in short, Bourbon, may be made anywhere in the USA. The lion's share is made in Kentucky. Bourbon need...

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