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Issue 65 - Happy trails

Whisky Magazine Issue 65
July 2007


This article is 10 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Happy trails

Rob Allanson takes an educational trip through America's whiskey heartland

There seems to be something built in to the human condition that predisposes us to explore, seek out more knowledge and discover what is over the horizon.

I think this is why you find all sorts of trails across the world, whether it be just a simple walking tour of a particularly nice or historic neighbourhood or a full on, pack for all weathers expedition.

This is what the American Whiskey Trail is, a voyage through Kentucky, Tennessee and finally to Washington discovering all the gems the American distilling community has to offer – and there are some cracking whiskeys out there to be found.

The trail, organised by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) provides a great opportunity to look in depth at some of America's most famous distilleries, the subtle differences in their processes and the ties that bind them close together, and several sites of cultural and historic significance.

From the colonial era, where whiskey had an important economic and social function in the fabric of the community, to the Whiskey Rebellion, through Prohibition and into modern times spirits have played a sometimes controversial but always fascinating role in the nation's history.

Before we set off just one brief word about bourbon and Tennessee whiskey.

Bourbon is a mix of corn, rye and malt, and at least 51 per cent of the grain used in making the whiskey must be corn (most distillers use 65 to 75 per cent corn).

Bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years i...

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