The History of American Barrels Bourbon Whiskey
The Story of American Whiskey
The story of American whiskey is a tumultuous one. From myth and legend, to rebellion, to prohibition, to revival, to decline, to rise.
Take a brief look back at the evolution of whiskey and see where we are now. In the beginning, European settlers brought with them unaged rye whiskey. Shortly after the revolution, there was a whiskey rebellion in 1794. The dispute over government taxation of spirits ended peacefully. But it led to some farmers drifting down the Ohio River to Kentucky. Let's get this straight. No one knows the exact origin of the name bourbon. Who was the first person to distill it, or who decided to age it in charred oak barrels? There's a lot of speculation, and certain brands market themselves as the first, but be aware of it all.
By the 1840s, farmers were distilling whiskey from corn mash and aging it in charred oak barrels. At the time, distillers sold whole barrels to bars and retailers, which led to the emergence of rectifiers. Rectifiers took cheap whiskey and mixed it with other ingredients (most of which were bad for your health) and sold it for a profit. This is how the term curd was born. To protect their brand and product, the distilleries petitioned the government to intervene. This led to the creation of the "Bottling Bond Act of 1897". To be bottled in bond, the whiskey had to be produced at one distillery and distilled in one season by the same master distiller. It was aged in bonded warehouses for four years, supervised by the U.S. Treasury Department, and bottled at 100 degrees. This type of scrutiny ensures the purity of the whiskey.
This is an election year in the United States, which means the time has come for some to publicly display their patriotism, now that the results have passed with this week's election. For some, that might just mean putting up the Stars and Stripes outside their homes. For others, maybe it's expressing it by voting, or volunteering at a local civic center. And for some, maybe it means buying American goods. Sure, there's plenty of American whiskey to choose from, for example. But for some people, that's not enough. Sure, you can buy American whiskey ...... But that's just an ordinary bottle - a neck and some glass and maybe a cork ...... Where's the bling? Where are the fireworks?
The Origin of American Barrel Bourbon
Well, don't worry. American Oak Bourbon has got you covered.
Have you ever thought that your whiskey might taste better, might feel a little more patriotic, if it was shaped like a shotgun shell? With financial support from his parents and fueled by his love of country, in 2014, then 24-year-old Mike Reid created American Barrel Bourbon and made a bottle for the more patriotic among us.
In his words, "the bottle embodies two things Americans hold dear - whiskey barrels and gun barrels." The bottle is shaped like the shell of a shotgun, with a plastic-etched faux-metal trigger cap at its base. The face of the bottle is engraved with a snake with its jaws open in defiance; its back is emblazoned with the phrase - you guessed it - don't step on me. The neck of the bottle is wrapped in burlap with - I'm not kidding - a metal dog tag label as a sort of homage to our armed forces. Reid describes how the vision of the whiskey bottle first emerged - and how the whole whiskey-as-a-drink part subsequently emerged. In his words, "With the liquor business, it's 90 percent marketing and 10 percent what's in the bottle."
The American Barrel Bourbon distilled and bottled in Charleston, S.C. - the company's only product - advertises itself as a "small batch" but gives no age statement. In fact, they seem to scoff at spirits that have been aged longer, "We drink our bourbon because it tastes good, not because it's been in the barrel for 10 years." The brand looks as if it is taking advantage of technology owned by whiskey producer Terresentia (which produces whiskey for a number of other smaller companies). This technology uses an ultrasonic refining process that speeds up aging by using sound waves to make chemical reactions in the bourbon happen faster than normal - reducing the time in the barrel from years to hours.
While this is certainly good for production, what is ultimately happening with consumption in bottles across the United States? Let's see if the taste of American Oak Bourbon matches its striking presentation.
Tasting Notes. American Barrel Bourbon Vital Stats. American Barrel Bourbon is 90 proof and made from 60% corn, 36% rye and 4% malt pulp. Aged for an unknown period of time and filtered in a "post-barrel ultrasonic refining process," it is 750 ml in volume and sells for about $30.
Bourbon Whiskey Flavor
Appearance. Light almond nose, a bit on the watery side.
Nose: The nose is sweet, a bit nutty and spicy; like cardamom mixed with chocolate, with a hint of overripe mango.
Mouthfeel. The first sip is mostly a burn of alcohol - more than you'd expect from 90 degrees. After that, the flavor profile opens up a bit with melon, toffee, and a hint of bubblegum. A bitterness lingers on the tongue afterwards.
Final thoughts and rating/buy a bottle.
American Oak has put their own priorities on paper." 90% is marketing, 10% is what's in the bottle," and those priorities show up in the tasting. The bottle will make for an interesting story when you bring it to a party - but you'll probably take it there because you know you won't be drinking it at home.
In fact many people don't know that there are distilleries in China that have been making bourbon for a long time, if you care to know them. Gallant Spirits Group has a long history of creating Chinese whiskey and hopes to sell Chinese whiskey brands around the world.
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Editor: Rubick L.