Shopping for the best bourbon out there can be a challenge if you do not know a little about the subject. Christmas is coming and maybe bourbon is the gift you want to get for that someone special. You will need to know basically a few keys facts before you make that purchase so you can be proud of the gift you give or better yet, if you are the lucky recipient of an expensive bourbon.
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Bourbon by definition is from the United States, so it will not do you any good to look for a good bourbon from France or Ireland because they don't make it. Yes, they make a whiskey but it will not be bourbon since that is what the United States calls the category of whiskey made here. Next, know that 90 percent of the bourbon in the United States is from Kentucky. There are a few other distilleries in other states, but for the older and generally the finest companies, look to Kentucky.
There are several characteristics of a good bourbon. One is the level of alcohol (from 80 to 126 proof), which does not mean higher alcohol equates with higher quality necessarily. Another important is the aging time in white oak barrels, from 2 years required by law to 20 or 30 years. The older it gets, the smoother the feel on your tongue and the roundness in the flavor. How much of it was made in one batch also determines the cost as smaller batches that excel in taste can fetch a hefty price tag. The quality of ingredients they start with is also important, including the water which in many areas comes from underground limestone aqafirs. The vast majority of bourbon distilleries take pride in their bourbons and would not think of using anything but the finest ingredients.
If you want to know what bourbons are the most expensive you can just go to the largest liquor store in your neighborhood and ask them to show you their higher priced bourbons. It will be as simple as walking to the aisle and looking at the price tags. If, on the other hand you are interested in the most expensive bourbon or really the highest quality bourbon, then check out some websites where the experts have done their homework and can tell you why they recommend certain bourbons. There is a link at the bottom of this article for a review of the most famous and best bourbons available.
One thing to keep in mind is what kind of drinker is going to be drinking this expensive bourbon. Some people prefer their bourbon with ice, others with soda and a few just straight up for sipping. If you are not a sipping person then maybe the super old bourbons would not be a wise choice as many of the nuances would be lost in the sweetness of soda. Also, the experience of the drinker will have a lot to do with the overall experience. For some, the potency of this kind of liquor will feel like a punch in the stomach after they have been drinking their light beer. Believe it or not, some people prefer a label simply because it is what their grandfather or father or favorite friend drank, so for them sticking with the label they know is easiest, and might be something to keep in mind.
This is kind of a difficult area to explain since bourbon can have such a varied effect on different people's palate. For some it might be an instant stomach ache and hallucinations depending on their alcohol tolerance or intolerance. Those who enjoy bourbon tell of the smoothness on the tongue, then the burn at the back of the throat and then the warmth that spreads over their body as they swallow. Notes of oak and vanilla and berries or fruit can be tasted as the aftertaste lingers on their tongue. The alcohol effect is the same as other liquors but it is the action in the mouth that bourbon lovers are looking for more than the kick of the alcohol. They want to feel the expression of the bourbon as it moves around their tongue and the sweetness left in their mouth after they swallow. Time is a necessity for the true enjoyment of a good bourbon to have its full effect.