You may already know that in its name at least, the only thing that separates Scottish whisky from the rest of the word is the solitary letter ‘e’ (Scottish whisky, whiskey is from everywhere else). While I could happily expound on the entire world of whiskies at some, and for you poor souls, ultimately tedious length, I am only interested here on the world of American whiskey. Not that this in itself is a small world, let’s narrow it down to two favourites, Bourbon and Rye.
To be generally brief, Rye (minimum 51% rye grain) hails from the north-eastern states (Pennsylvania and Maryland particularly) with Pittsburgh, as it’s historic epicentre. Rye all but died out after prohibition but it’s safe to say it’s enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity. Bourbon (min 51% maize grain) is from the south, namely Kentucky and Tennessee. Characteristically, Bourbon is sweeter and richer, while Rye is called the Islay Whisky of the Americas due to its lighter colouration and dry spices.
That’s the boring stats and history out of the way, now lets talk what they’re good for; drinks! It may surprise you to know that what we consider today to be Bourbon based drinks were actually invented for Rye, the Manhattan, Old Fashions and Whiskey Sours particularly. Now, my tastes are dry and bitter (like I like my women?) so this suits me down to the ground but Bourbons were introduced to those for people with a sweeter pallet.
One of the driest Ryes I’ve had, however, is one of the newest kids on the block; F.E.W. Rye. Seriously dry is this wonderful spirit. This craft distillery has, wonderfully ironically, taken its name from Frances Elizabeth Willard, who was a key figure in the prohibition era temperance movement. In your face Frances!
F.E.W. packs a seriously dry and spicy punch. I made a Boulevardier with it (Rye, Campari and sweet vermouth) and was instantly in love with its complexity. Try it in our No.1 cocktail, where its flavours are perfectly balanced with the fresh juice of a sour Granny Smith apple and soda water. Tart, to say the least!
One of my favourite Bourbons needs little introduction however. Buffalo Trace, recently speculated to be one of the best distillers of quality whiskey in the world (certainly the most decorated) in one recent poll, this Bourbon is classic Kentucky through and through, over 200 years of it to be precise. This I will happily drink neat but in a Vieux Carre (Bourbon, Cognac, Benedictine, Vermouth and bitters and named after New Orleans’ French Quarter) it’s simply heaven in a glass.
You’ll find both of these wonderful tipples on our shelves here at Forge, nestling amongst a great many others of course. Pop in and try some, I entreat you.
I must continue on this arduous and selfless task of discovery for your benefit alone, dear reader. I hope you appreciate my sacrifices. Until next time!