One of the featured bottles in this month’s tasting has a bit of history to it other than the bourbon in the bottle. The “President’s Choice” bottling by Brown-Forman was a specialty product bottled in the late 1950’s to early 1970’s. It was a single barrel bourbon hand selected by the Master Distiller. In its early years (like our bottling), it was not a public release. Instead, it was a private selection only for “Distinguished Gentlemen” who worked for or with the distillery or who had some other distillery connection. Our bottle prominently features the name of one such distinguished gentlemen, “M.H. W. Ritchie.” We thought it would be interesting to learn a bit more of the man that made this bottle possible.
What is the difference between a single grain and a single malt whisky? Consumers and even some bartenders have a misconception that single-malt Scotch is not a blended whisky, but this is a myth. Single-malt scotch is a blend, but it’s a very specific type of blend. In fact, nearly all whiskies on the market today are blends—bourbons, ryes, Tennessee, scotches, etc.
Numerous factors affect a whiskey’s final characteristics. Those in the know will tell you that the mash bill, the yeast, the fermentation method and environment, the still, distillation rates and proof, the type and char of barrel, the barrel entry proof, the aging environment, and the time in the barrel are all factors that contribute to each specific product.
But one more nuanced variable also shapes the way a product is perceived – the bottling proof. This month’s Flight Club will focus on just that – the bottling proof – and that factor’s impact on nose, taste, and finish. We will be sampling the entire international lineup of Blanton’s, which includes otherwise identical single barrel bourbons* bottled at 80 proof, 93 proof, 103 proof and barrel proof.