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Sour or Sweet: The Father of Modern Bourbon

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The last time you found yourself at Ye Olde Liquor Store, your eyes might have wandered to the bottom shelf where labels are stuffed with text emphasizing the quality and heritage of the bourbon, proudly boasting, “SOUR MASH WHISKEY.” You might have wondered what that even meant as you settled up for your bottle of Evan Williams, and why very few other bourbon brands boast this quality of their whiskey so proudly.

The early nineteenth century was a cluster of a great variety of bourbon quality, from excellent products to worse-than-rotgut to everything in-between. Distillers, including commercial and farmer-distillers, usually utilized two processes to create mash for producing whiskey: sour mash and sweet mash. These processes are exactly the same in regards to the amount of grain in the mash, the mash bill, fermentation, and yeast, but with one essential difference: the sour mash process includes a portion of spent mash from the previous distillation, just like sourdough bread contains a portion of dough from a previous batch of bread. It was the distiller’s preference for whether they chose to distill sweet mash or sour mash that day, and distillers didn’t specify which mash produced the whiskey they sold. Continue Reading →

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From Grain to Glass: An American Craft Spirits Renaissance

Here’s a wonderfully produced “grain to glass” documentary produced by our friends over at Hudson Whiskey. Pour yourself a glass of whiskey and take 15 minutes out of your day to enjoy this peek into the craft distilling world.

And congrats to Hudson Whiskey on 10 great years!

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Introducing Melissa Alexander

Melissa AlexanderToday we’re super pleased to announce that Melissa Alexander will be joining the Bourbon & Banter team as a regular contributor. Melissa made her B&B debut last week with a post titled, “Bottled In Bond: A Brief History”.  That post received nothing but positive feedback from our readers and has been shared over 232 times. Not a bad start at all.

Here’s a little more information about Melissa:

Melissa is an aspiring bourbon historian who began her romance with bourbon the night of her 21st birthday. She is studying for her Master’s in History at the University of Cincinnati, and works at Historic Locust Grove in Louisville where she contributes to their hearth cooking, distilling, and dairying demonstrations. In her free time, she enjoys stitching reproduction historical garments for living history events, and, of course, spreading the bourbon gospel to anyone who will listen.


Please join us in wishing Melissa a warm welcome and make sure to follow her on Twitter as well at @aglassofhistory.

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Four Roses Tournament: A Story of Bourbon, Banter & BBQ

We’d like to wish everyone a very happy National Bourbon Day! To celebrate we invite you to watch our video about a recent Four Roses tasting that we were lucky to be invited to here in St. Louis. You’ll learn a little bit about Four Roses, why it’s always better to drink with friends and discover where you can get your hands on a killer bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection.

Pour yourself a drink and spend a few minutes with us as we celebrate National Bourbon Day!

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