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If only one vowel differs American whiskey from its cousin on the over side of the Atlantic, it is still one of a kind. Unlike Scotch Malts, American whiskeys are made from a blend of various grains, including corn, barley and rye.
Bourbon, the most famous of American whiskeys
Bourbon owes its name to Old Bourbon County in Kentucky. If its origins remain unclear, it became popular around the end of the 18th century thanks to the immigrants newly settled in the Kentucky farms who began to produce whiskey from corn, the most easily cultivable cereal and therefore the most accessible in this region. Bourbon will be truly recognized by the American Congress as a "distinctive product of the United States" in 1964.
Although about 90% of its production is concentrated there, Bourbon must be made in the USA, and not necessarily in Kentucky as one might think, to be designated as such. It must also have been produced from at least 51% corn, have aged in new oak barrels and be bottled at a minimum of 40%. It will be called "straight bourbon" if it spends more than two years in a barrel.
Tennessee whiskey, a serious competitor to Bourbon
Kentucky has the Bourbon, but its neighbour Tennessee is not far behind with its famous Jack Daniel's which is now known internationally. To obtain the designation "Tennessee Whiskey", the whiskey must go through an additional step, carbon filtration (also known as the Lincoln County Process), in which the whiskey is filtered through a layer of more than three meters of carbon.
Whiskey in the rest of the United States
In addition to these two states, which are at the historic heart of American whiskey, other states, from New York to California, are home to microdistilleries, which notably produce rye whiskey. Symbols of innovation and creativity, they also help ensure the growth and sustainability of American whiskey.