Jewish Food

The Boozy Jew: The Laws of Bourbon

Maybe it’s due to our claustrophobic surroundings, sitting in dimly lit rooms all day in front of brightly lit computers, filling the internets with tales of intrigue and snark, whatever the reason, we Jewcy writers like to drink, and the … Read More

By / August 12, 2010

Maybe it’s due to our claustrophobic surroundings, sitting in dimly lit rooms all day in front of brightly lit computers, filling the internets with tales of intrigue and snark, whatever the reason, we Jewcy writers like to drink, and the higher ups thought it was high time I shared some of our favorite libations with you…also it’s an amazing excuse to start drinking at my desk even before I clock out for the man at the end of the day…

One of the first liquors I can remember seeing my fellow Hebrews throwing back at Bar Mitvahs, brises and weddings was whiskey, that deliciously amber hued beverage that has a full pleasant taste of vanilla (from the oak barrels) on the tongue, and if its a good one, is smooth all the way down.  I have been a fan of all types of whiskey even before Uncle Sam said I was technically allowed to enjoy them, and therefore whiskey will be a beverage reviewed often in this column, but being a Southern Gentleman, there is no whiskey I enjoy more than Bourbon.   Although Bourbon is commonly associated with Kentucky and is, in this Boozy Jew’s opinion, where the best Bourbon comes from, it actually does not need to be made in Bourbon County, or even in Kentucky to be a Bourbon.  In 1964, the same year our congress signed the Civil Rights Act into law, our great law-makers also sought to define what actually makes a Bourbon, Bourbon.  Here are the guidelines:

  • Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
  • Bourbon must bedistilled to no more than 160 (U.S.)proof (80% alcohol by volume).
  • Neither coloring nor flavoring may be added.
  • Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.
  • Bourbon must be entered into the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume).
  • Bourbon, like other whiskeys, may not be bottled at less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume.)
  • Bourbon which meets the above requirements and has been aged for a minimum of two years, may (but is not required to) be called Straight Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon aged for a period less than four years must be labeled with the duration of its aging.
  • If an age is stated on the label, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.
  • Only whiskey produced in the United States can be called bourbon.

Which brings us to my favorite Bourbon of the moment, W.L. Weller Special Reserve. While Bourbon must be at least 51% corn mash to be considered Bourbon (and in reality most Bourbons are at least 60%) most master distillers choose rye as their grain of choice to finish off the whiskey.  W L Weller however was the first Bourbon to go a different route and finish off their whiskey with Wheat.  As you pour the Weller into your glass for the first time, you will notice the whiskey’s beautiful light amber color.  I strongly recommend drinking it straight or with a large ice cube, so as not to water this delicious beverage down.  The Wheating, as it is called, allows the whiskey to enter your taste buds with the sweet taste of caramel, honey and raisins and then as it hits the back of your throat, this bourbon turns deliciously spicy with hints of clove.   I’ve seen this Bourbon sold by the glass around New York City for anywhere between 12 and 15 dollars, but the really beautiful thing about this Bourbon, is that it retails for only $16-$20, it’s a STEAL.  For the depth and complexity of this incredible liquor, it could retail at well over $30 a bottle, so what are you waiting for, go out and add a bottle of Weller to your bar.