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Travel with Bennett-Watt and learn about process of distilling bourbon whiskey in Woodford Kentucky.
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There’s nothing more original to Kentucky than Bourbon Whiskey. The definition of the Bourbon is it must be made in 51% corn aged in a no tar wild oak barrel for two years and is still not higher than 160-proof.
First of all, we take limestone water which is ground water from here in the bluegrass here in Kentucky and this limestone water adds certain mineral that is white. First grain that we’ll put in is the corn, then we’ll cool that down. We’ll cook that for about half an hour and I would fill it down a little bit and then we’ll add the rye. We cultivate our own proprietary yeast and add the yeast to this mixture and the yeast will begin to react with the sugars, they’ll consume these sugars and the carbon dioxide gas, heat and alcohol.
We’re the only distillery in the world that makes bourbon using hot stoves and we’re only one of five or six distilleries in the world that make whiskey in the triple distillation process. Double distillation is simple, triple distillation gets a lot more complex.
So what happens in the first still which is the barrel still, we simply are separating alcohol from the mash. And this is easy to do because alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water. So it’s about 180 degrees to 212, the alcohol is coming on—once it reaches 212, all the alcohol is gone.
On the second still, we prep what came out of the first still and we distill that. It comes off there, it’s pretty filled with corn parts. And again, we’re refining it one more step and it comes out at a 158 proof. Now, when we look at the steam, it’s all the alcohol coming off the stills. It looks just like water and because it hasn’t touched the inside of the barrel yet. It smells very grainy and it tastes good. It doesn’t taste anything like bourbon. This is called bourbon ___ and it’s ready to go into the barrel.
Once the barrel is filled and pick the popular band and drive it in the hole and then spin it down out the window and it rolls down the barrel right into the warehouse. We’ll leave these barrels in this warehouse and they’ll age here anywhere from six to seven years. Now, that’s important because aging really has a dynamic effect on the taste of the bourbon.
Once the barrel is done, they’re ready for bottling. We’ll bring the barrel over and put it on this contraption called a dump throw. And we’ll take the barrel and dump it to the dump throw bin. So you get an idea of the color of the whiskey looking like water and it’s coming out with a great color. A good bourbon, when you’re judging a good bourbon, one of the first things you look for is the color, and this is a nice deep rich bourbon which is perfect. If the color is yellow, it means that it stayed in the barrel long enough and it’s going to have a bite to it. It’s not going to be very smooth. If it’s dark brown, it means it may have been in the barrel too long, it may have some woodiness to it, maybe slightly strange and very dry. So this is wonderful.