I’ve always been of the opinion that style encompasses so much more than just clothing. It’s the whole package, which includes a knowledge and appreciation of many different things, one of those being good whiskey. So in that spirit, we’re getting ready to try out something new in the next few weeks – namely, adding a little whiskey tasting series to the YouTube channel. As a matter of fact, we’re shooting the first few episodes today. I’ll be joined by my good friend Chris, and we’ll be sharing our thoughts on some of our favorite whiskies. To help prepare for the new series, let’s take a look at five whiskey terms you should know.
1. Mash Bill
A whiskey’s mash bill is simply the ratio of grains used to make the whiskey. In American whiskies, you’ll see combinations of corn, wheat, rye, and barley. Each lends a different quality and the dominant grain will give the whiskey its distinctive character.
2. Small Batch
There’s no industry standard definition for what small batch means and you’ll get different answers from different distillers. It’s a fairly vague term that’s often confused with ‘single barrel’ (see below), but generally means that the distiller is being a bit more choosy about what they’re bottling, which should lead to a more “premium” experience than regular offerings.
3. Single Barrel
Single barrel is exactly what it says – whiskey bottled from a single barrel. A distiller will choose a few or several barrels they deem exceptional and single them out for bottling. As a result, single barrel whiskies from one distiller can vary slightly depending on which barrel the bottle came from.
4. Barrel Proof
A.k.a. the good s***! Forgive me, I’ve been on a barrel proof whiskey kick recently. Barrel proof refers to a whiskey that is bottled at the strength it was kept in the barrel to mature. Most whiskies are diluted with water once they’ve matured, which helps keep the price down for the consumer. That’s why usually the higher the proof, the higher the price.
5. Bottled in Bond
Bottled in Bond is a term specific to American whiskey. It refers to a whiskey that’s been aged and bottled in accordance with specifications laid out in the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. The whiskey itself must be a product of one distillation season from one distiller at a single distillery. Then it must be held for at least four years at a federally bonded warehouse and bottled at no less than 50% abv (100 proof).
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