20 Haute Facts You Need To Know About Whiskey

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Sunday, March 27th marks the seventh annual International Whiskey Day. While it was announced in 2008, the day did not officially launch until 2009 at the Whiskey Festival in northern Netherlands.

In honor, and celebration, of this coveted day, we interviewed Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett, who has worked with the company for 15 years, and eight of those years Arnett has been the Master Distiller. We also spoke with Greg Slattery, Brand Ambassador for Jameson Irish Whiskey. In both interviews we learned a slew of information that every prospective whiskey connoisseur should know.

So, raise a glass and celebrate the greatest libation in the world.

Jack Daniel’s

  1. Old No. 7, Gentlemen Jack and Single Barrel Select all share the same grain, which is 80 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley and eight percent rye.
  1. The rye content is much lower than the typical Kentucky Bourbon, which means Jack Daniel’s is about a half to a third of the typical rye content. Having lower rye content puts Jack Daniel’s whiskey character more in the sweet oak range of flavors.
  1. According to Arnett, when you go up in rye you start to add what he would call a bold, peppery, spicy character and a little bit of rye goes along way towards that. Every percent you increase rye, it will contribute to that type of taste.
  1. Malted barley has an enzyme that exists inside it and when you cook it together with your other grains of corn and rye, it will take the starches in those grain and reduce them down to simple sugars, which helps take the yeast in the fermenter to be able to make alcohol.
  1. A Tennessee whiskey has to meet the federal codes for bourbon. It first has to be bourbon, so everything you process has to satisfy that, then you must stick to your grain and your distillation proof, and you have to use new charred oak barrels.
  1. If you’re a bourbon your product has to be all natural, which means a bottle of whiskey includes water, grain and barrel. No colorings, no flavorings, nothing artificial added.
  1. Whiskey was very popular during the 1950s, 1960s and even the 1970s.
  1. There is sort of a renaissance going on with American whiskey largely thanks to women who are exploring Whiskey Sours, Old Fashions, Manhattans and things of that nature.
  1. When you consume whiskey with ice, as the ice melts it dilutes the character (in a good way) a little bit. Literally every sip will taste different and as the ice continues to kind of dilute whiskey, different aromas and flavors are going to start to reveal itself.
  1. Jack Daniel’s is the only whiskey company that makes its own barrels. The barrel is going to be almost all of the company’s color and over half of its flavor.

Jameson Irish Whiskey

  1. The Jameson Family Moto “Sine Metu” means “Without Fear” in Latin and is on every single bottle.
  1. John Jameson started making Jameson Whiskey at his distillery in Dublin in 1780.
  1. Legally to be an Irish whiskey it must be aged in barrels for a minimum of three years.
  1. John Jameson thought aging was so important we leave it for between five to seven years.
  1. Jameson whiskey is triple distilled, which is unique as Scottish whiskey is usually distilled twice and American whiskey once.
  1. Jameson is aged in ex-Bourbon barrels from America & ex-Sherry casks from Jerez in the south of Spain.
  1. Every single drop of Jameson is distilled in Midleton, Co. Cork, which is in the southwest of Ireland.

Overall

  1. Vodka brands are competing to have the least character, while whiskey is the complete opposite. Whiskey is competing to have the most character, and most pleasant character at that. Brands want it to have big flavor as well as be approachable and drinkable at the same time.
  1. Always consume whiskey neat first, and then decide what you want to do with it after.
  1. During the prohibition, the most consumed whiskey was rye whiskey.
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