James Rodewald writes for Gourmet.com, and asks (and answers) the question many whiskey drinkers often ask. Why does Kentucky have the market cornered on great bourbon?
There’s no doubt that Kentucky’s water is special. It flows through limestone, which makes it high in magnesium and calcium —minerals that also contribute to the magnificence of the state’s racehorses — and low in iron. These characteristics are good for fermentation and for the eventual flavor of the whiskey.
In Kentucky, however — with the exception of Labrot & Graham’s excellent Woodford Reserve ($30) — everyone uses the more industrial-looking column still, which allows mash to be processed continuously rather than in batches (which is why this method is called continuous distillation)
Rodewald concludes that it is the geography that makes Kentucky Bourbon unique. Even though many distillers might be tempted to replicate the Kentucky Bourbon in other states with similar climates, Rodewald decides that small distillers can’t wait the four years to see a return on investment.
Read more of his insightful analysis at MSN.com.