September is national Bourbon month, to help you celebrate we've rounded up a number of the United States favourite whiskies and drinks
Although not the first whiskey made in the United States, Bourbon is certainly the most popular, with exports tripling in the last ten years. Rye was the first grain to be distilled and sold as whiskey in the US and remained the most popular style right up until prohibition in 1920, in fact the majority of whiskey based cocktails from the pre-prohibition era the Manhattan, Old Fashioned were Rye not Bourbon based.
It appears that when prohibition was repealed in the 1930’s the American drinker had gone off the taste of rye and now preferred the sweeter corn based whiskey from Kentucky and its neighbouring states.
Conversely, following the Bourbon boom of the post war years the 70’s and 80’s were the white spirit years with vodka, gin, rum and Tequila taking over Bourbon’s sales and consigning it to be the spirit your grand-parents enjoyed!
However in the last ten years or so Bourbon is back and interestingly, it is the more expensive brands that are driving the sales of Bourbon and especially the ones that are harder to find or are on strict allocation.
Many consumers have had the more well-known brands available to them for a long time and are now keen to explore the category, and with the recent emergence of craft distilleries releasing new brands onto the market, they have the opportunity to try whiskey with an unusual production story or just a different flavour profile.
Hudson Baby Bourbon
A half-bottle of the splendidly-named Hudson Baby Bourbon - the first legal aged grain spirit to be produced in New York since prohibition ended over 75 years ago. Unusually for Bourbon, Hudson's spirit is manufactured in a potstill at the Tuthilltown Gristmill (a heritage site) and is aged in small new oak casks.
Bulleit Bourbon is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey whose high-rye content and iconic frontier inspired bottle is a favourite among bartenders and mixologists across the world. When Tom Bulleit set out to make a Bourbon unlike any other, he was inspired by a recipe created by his great-great grandfather Augustus Bulleit more than 175 years ago.
The Bull Old Fashioned
A soothing stirred down Bulleit Bourbon old fashioned with smoky BBQ sauce.
50ml Bulleit Bourbon
15ml Smoky BBQ sauce
5ml simple syrup
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Stir all ingredients until perfect dilution. Strain into iced rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist and paprika dust.
Blanton's Special Reserve
Blanton’s Special Reserve is ideal for those new to single barrel bourbons. A sweet taste profile with a floral nose and light undertones of vanilla and citrus make it perfect for a premium cocktail or served on the rocks.
Old Forester is the oldest Bourbon brand in continuous production, surviving even prohibition during which it was sold on a medicinal licence. The smash is an open-ended cocktail, freely variable and seasonally flexible. There must be ice, though you may strain it out if you prefer. There should be fruit in season, though you may use it simply as a garnish. There should be a spirit base, though you may use your spirit of choice. Mint is a classic choice, though many other herbs can work.You may want to water your smash down a little or add a spritz of seltzer. At its heart, the smash is a wonderfully forgiving and flexible drink.
The Old Forester Bourbon Smash
50ml Old Forester Classic 86 Proof Bourbon
25ml lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup
8 mint sprigs.
Shake and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and wedge of lemon.
Bourbon like other American whiskey follows strict production rules, it must be 51% corn, it must be distilled to no more than 80% abv and it must be aged in new charred barrels and it cannot have anything added after distillation except limestone water. Unlike Scotch whisky there is no smokiness which can often put people off drinking whisky, corn is a sweet tasting grain and the maturation in American oak barrels (in the majority of cases) adds additional flavours of vanilla and coconut all of which are very appealing to many drinkers.
The Muddled Creek
2 parts Knob Creek Bourbon
Ginger Ale to taste
Splash of Triple Sec
Muddled orange slice
In a rock glass, muddle an orange slice. Fill the rocks glass with ice and add Knob Creek Bourbon and triple sec. Add just a splash of ginger ale to top up.
Bourbon's ability to mix is also another reason why it has become popular again, with the growth in cocktails around the world and the interest in spirits with flavour has led many bartenders to use bourbon as the go to spirit for new cocktails. That said some of the oldest and most important mixed drinks are bourbon based such as the Mint julep and the whiskey sour.
Woodford Reserve Old Fashioned
Smooth, refined, rich and decadent. Woodford Reserve is further enhanced by the addition of sugar, bitters and fresh orange oils. The perfect partner for this American Classic.
50ml Woodford Reserve
10ml sugar syrup
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Stir slowly over cubed ice until diluted, garnish with an orange twist.
Jim Beam Mint Julep
1 part Jim Beam Bourbon
Splash of water
Pinch of granulated sugar
Dissolve the sugar in a splash of water. Fill the glass with ice and add Jim Beam Bourbon. Garnish the glass with sprigs of mint.
Four Roses is a worldwide favourite, especially when creating mixed drinks with a sophisticated, contemporary flair. Hints of pear and apple compliment floral aromas and mix with a taste of honey and spice.
20ml Sweet Vermouth
75ml Four Roses Bourbon
Dash of Angostura Bitters
2 or 3 ice cubes
1 Maraschino cherry
1 twist of orange peel
Combine the vermouth, whiskey, bitters and ice in a mixing glass. Stir gently, don’t bruise the spirits and cloud the drink. Place the cherry in a chilled cocktail glass and strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry. Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink to release the oils but don’t drop it in.
The Black Feather
Created by Josh Reynolds of Hawksmoor Spitalfields and winner of the 2014 UK Wild Turkey Cocktail competition.
42.5ml Wild Turkey 81
30ml Punt e Mes
7.5ml Homemade smoked salted pineapple syrup
Put all ingredients in a stirring beaker. Add cubed ice, and stir down with bar spoon until desired temperature is reached. Serve straight up in a classic coupette glass and garnish with a discarded lemon zest.
Trace of The Gold Miners
Created by Maxime Creusot of Steam & Rye
40 ml Buffalo Trace Bourbon
25 ml Apricot brandy
25 ml Galliano Authentico
3 dashes orange bitter
25 ml vanilla syrup
Flame the blend with bay leaves, cardamom, star anise, vanilla pod, cinnamon and a burst of orange zest. Fine strain into a lantern, add 20 ml of lemon juice, crushed ice and swizzle. Add an LED cubed and dry ice.