Bourbon and Whiskey: Why Brown Is Best
Bourbon and whiskey producers in both America and abroad are enjoying a renaissance. Spirit drinkers everywhere are rediscovering the pleasure of “brown” beverages and, whether you’re relaxing after a summer time hike, decompressing from a drive through fall foliage or warming up after a day skiing, NH Hotels like Stonehurst Manor are great places to enjoy a drink or two.
What Is Whiskey?
Whiskey is a fermented alcoholic beverage. Similar to beer, it starts out as mashed grain that slowly gets cooked down, converting the starches to sugars. After the mash is completed, the distillers ferment it to create an alcoholic spirit. However, the spirit that comes from the mash is relatively weak. To turn it into whiskey, the content is distilled to remove water and leave behind only the alcohol and the flavor of the liquid. Then, the distilled spirit gets aged in barrels to pick up additional flavor and complexity.
Today, 8.2 percent of spirits in the market are either whiskey or bourbon. The two fastest growing types of whiskey and bourbon, both of which you can enjoy in North Conway bars like the Library Lounge at Stonehurst Manor, are Irish whiskey and bourbon and its southern counterpart, Tennessee whiskey.
Whiskey or Bourbon?
As long as a beverage is made of distilled, fermented grain and is aged in a barrel, it’s probably a whiskey. To be a bourbon, though, it needs to meet additional specifications. Whiskey can be made out of corn, rye, barley or wheat, while bourbon has to contain at least 51 percent corn. In addition, bourbon can only be aged in new barrels made of American white oak. Whiskey can be aged in used barrels or in barrels made of other materials. Finally, bourbon has to be pure and unadulterated, with nothing added but water. Furthermore, water can only be added to bring it to its proof level, usually 80. Whiskey could have additional flavors, colors or other ingredients that alter it.
When to Enjoy Whiskey and Bourbon
Given the aging process, the whiskey and bourbon that you drink today was actually made years ago. Since demand for the beverage is spiking, some distilleries are already warning that they will experience shortages moving forward. Stonehurst Manor’s North Conway Restaurant and Martini Lounge offers a selection of fine small batch bourbons and of whiskeys so that you can enjoy them while they are still available. You can also enjoy them mixed in a cocktail, if you prefer.