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Pop quiz, people.
True or false: For a Whiskey to be bestowed the title of "Bourbon," it must be made in Kentucky.
If you answered "true," do not pass go. Do not collect $200. And definitely do not take another sip of whatever you’re drinking. ‘Cause first, we need to have a little chat.
So, gas up your proverbial tank — we’re going on a Bourbon-soaked road trip (hypothetically speaking, of course) with a starting point — the Bluegrass State; second stop — the cornfields of Indiana; and the end destination — the mountainous landscape of Wyoming.
As you’ve probably guessed, a Whiskey doesn’t need to come from Kentucky to be labeled a Bourbon. As long as it’s made in the good ol’ U.S. of A., it’s golden. That leaves a lot of room for the other states in the unions to stake their claim on producing some pretty spectacular juice.
And that’s a good thing — especially since the rest of the world seems to have come down with an acute case of Bourbon fever. But how did Bourbon get so big? A fortuitous combo of small-batch/single-barrel production that elevated Bourbon as a premium Spirit, the emergence of a global exports market thanks to a friendly agreement between the EU and NAFTA and the rise of the craft cocktail movement ushered in a boom that in some cases supply couldn’t meet. And luckily for Bourbon’s boom, there seems to be no bust in sight.
Good news: Bourbon producers have ramped up their efforts in order to give the people (ahem, you) what they want. In fact, last year, distillers filled more than 1.7 million barrels of Bourbon in Kentucky alone.
And the even better news? They now have assistance from distillers all across the country. Like George Remus, a vanilla-forward number hailing from Indiana, and Redemption's Double Gold award-winning Wheated Bourbon, distilled in Indiana and bottled at 48% ABV in Bardstown, Kentucky. Then, of course, there's Wyoming Whiskey Bourbon — a small-batch Bourbon that’s produced grain to glass in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming. You’ll find all three in this box.
‘Nuff talking, though. Let’s get to tasting. Cheers to those brilliant Bourbons!
1) In 1964, Congress passed a concurrent resolution declaring Bourbon "A Distinct Product of the United States." Just as Scotch can only be produced in Scotland and Tequila can only be produced in Mexico, Bourbon can only be produced in the United States.
2) Before the resolution was passed, Prohibition drove some Bourbon distillers out of the country. Somewhat famously, Mary Dowling shuttered her distillery in Tyrone, Kentucky, took her still, grabbed a Beam, and headed to Juarez, Mexico to wait out Prohibition. There she continued to make and sell Bourbon.
3) George Remus was named after a renowned lawyer and bootlegger from the Prohibition era who was eventually arrested and convicted. Allegedly, he also served as inspiration for the title character The Great Gatsby in the novel of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
4) While Redemption Rye is perhaps the most famous Redemption offering, did you know they also make a Wheated Bourbon that sits on the knife-edge between Bourbon and Wheat Whiskey? At 96 proof and with a mash bill of 51% corn, 45% winter wheat, and 4% malted barley, this flavorful and unique Spirit is definitely not your typical Wheated Bourbon.
5) Bourbon’s secret ingredient is… dish soap. During fermentation, starchy CO2 bubbles can build up and overflow — damaging the equipment and entire batches of product. It’s very common to suspend a small ladle filled with a few drops of pure dish soap above the mash. If the bubbles rise up and touch the soap, a reaction called saponification pops them, protecting both the Spirit and the distillery. Just a few drops of soap can protect a 50,000-gallon batch.
6) Distilleries were expected to and even required to stop production of beverage alcohol and retrofit stills to produce ethanol for WWI and WWII. But they did their part, even changing over from 48- to 53-gallon barrels to save wood — those were the largest barrels that would fit in current ricks and it saved a significant amount of lumber. To this day most distilleries still use 53-gallon barrels.
Speaking of breeding winner horses, two of Pinhook’s co-founders have horseracing in their DNA. Jamie Hill and Mike McMahon continue the tradition of their families as third-generation horsemen, owning a bloodstock agency and a thoroughbred racing company. Applying that knowledge to Whiskey just made sense.
Pinhooking means purchasing and rearing a foal based on its pedigree and either selling it or turning it into a champ racing horse. The same idea is behind Pinhook Bourbon: they source young Whiskey to mature and blend it into a blue-ribbon sipping Bourbon.