Whiskey Wit

Linda Pinto and Heather Prochnow

We saved this liquor until we knew we could give it justice, and so begins our three-part series on whiskey. Today the main producing areas of whiskey are Scotland, the United States, Ireland, Canada and Japan. Clearly, at least some of the world’s superpowers have their priorities straight. American whiskey has a strong heritage in this country with the lovingly familiar “wise men,” Jack and Jim.
In North America, whiskey is spelled with an “e” and its production dates back to the 18th century. Before whiskey production, the major spirit here was rum. In fact, after serving as American’s first president, George Washington became one of America’s prominent whiskey distillers. It’s nice to know that Mr. Washington only had his people’s well-being in mind with his quest for continental domination, be it in politics or alcohol. The first American whiskeys were made of malted barley and rye; later on, however, a group of distillers in Bourbon County of Kentucky began producing whiskeys made of pure malted corn, which was a much cheaper commodity at the time.
Bourbon whiskey is made of a mixture of no less than 51 percent corn with a mixture of malted barley and rye to make up the remaining ingredients. The chief distinguishing taste, however, comes from the new American oak barrels, with charred insides in which the whiskey matures. There are two styles of bourbon: sweet and sour mash bourbons. Sour marsh allows yeast from the preceding batches to augment the brew, doubling the length of fermentation and insuring that more of the sugars in the grain are consumed. The leading brand of bourbon is Jim Beam, while other brands include Wild Turkey, Maker’s Mark, and Early Times.
In Tennessee, a slightly different process takes place, although distilled similarly. Before entering the barrels, the whiskey undergoes the “Lincoln County Process,” filtering through a mass of sugar maple charcoal before being barreled. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Jack Daniel’s is one of the world’s most-loved whiskeys of this kind.