Much American whiskey is indeed Bourbon. So much so that the word Bourbon is often used to describe all whiskey from the States.
But, Bourbon has an important cousin: Tennessee whiskey.
Unlike Bourbon, which can be made anywhere in the States, Tennessee whiskey production is confined to the state of, well, Tennessee. This cousin lives under strict rules.
It is also made in a completely different way.
Like Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey is made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn. However, before being placed into new, charred oak barrels for ageing, Tennessee whiskey undergoes what is known as the Lincoln County Process, which is the official way to say that the whiskey is filtered through a thick layer of sugar-maple charcoal. This filtering stage takes about 10 days to complete.
Why take the extra step? Well, the filtering apparently refines the whiskey’s flavour, giving it a distinctive sweet taste. Plus, it apparently removes further impurities called congeners from the alcohol – these are the wee beasties that are said to contribute to hangovers. Sounds good, although do note that drinking vast quantities of Tennessee whiskey is still likely to leave you feeling a bit sore in the morning!
There are currently only two Tennessee whiskeys in production: Jack Daniels and George Dickel.
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