Bourbon whiskey is the only spirit designated as a distinct product of the United States of America. By law, in order to be bourbon the following factors must be in play:
- Made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
- Distilled to a proof of no higher than 160 proof
- Dumped into a barrel at a proof of no higher than 125 proof
- Aged in a new, charred white oak barrel
- Bottled at a proof of no lower than 80 proof
Bourbon has a history that coincides with American history itself and, like American history, some of it's legends and claims are somewhat foggy. Take it's development for example. Some claim the Reverend Elijah Craig was the man responsible for bourbon whiskey, that he was the first to age in charred oak casks which led to the clear whiskey distillate working into the grain of the barrel and taking on the reddish hue of bourbon whiskey. Others claim that a distiller by the name of James Spears who lived in Bourbon County was the first to label his whiskey as "Bourbon Whiskey" and therefore is responsible for it coming to light. Some refute all claims, stating there is no clear cut inventor.
Please note that none of the laws that designate a spirit as bourbon whiskey state that it must be made in a specific state. Today, about 90-95% of all bourbon is made in the state of Kentucky. As you can guess, that makes Kentucky a bourbon mecca. They hold the Kentucky Bourbon Festival each September (which is National Bourbon Heritage Month) and have setup the Kentucky Bourbon Trail which encourages tourism of various distilleries around the bluegrass state.
Here at The Blind Tastes Speakeasy (aka The BTS pictured atop this post) we are big fans of the Old Fashioned and after much experimentation we have found our preferred recipe. Today, on National Bourbon Day, we share it with you.
The BTS Old Fashioned
4oz W.L. Weller Antique 107 proof bourbon
1 sugar cube
4 dashes Orange Angostura bitters
splash of water (small splash! helps dissolve the sugar)
1 ice ball or large ice cube
Double Old Fashioned glass (or rocks glass of your choosing)
Drop a sugar cube into a rocks glass and add bitters and splash of water and muddle until the cube is dissolved. Add the ice ball and give 'er a spin for a minute to cool the glass. Add the bourbon. Zest an orange so it's about 1/2 inch wide and 2-3 inches long, making sure to avoid too much of the white pithe that is more bitter. Squeeze or twist the zest over the glass. You'll see the oils from the zest spray out into the cocktail. Rub the rim with the orange peel and toss that puppy in the drink. Give it a stir and enjoy!