Bourbon is enjoying an upswing in the premium spirits market – the mellow allure of America’s craft liquid is seeing a growing number of South Africans becoming increasingly more appreciative of authentic American whiskey.

“Bourbon has a rich and fascinating history, which adds to its allure,” says Rowan Gibbs, Super Premium Ambassador for Woodford Reserve. “In prior years, Bourbon hasn’t been as well-known and appreciated as Scotch and Irish Whisky, however Bourbon is becoming more popular with discerning South African whisk(e)y drinkers seeking balance and complexity.”

“Bourbon has something to offer every whiskey palate, from bold grain and wood, to sweet aromatics, spicy, fruit and floral notes,” he adds. “Woodford Reserve has a wonderful complexity of flavour and character with over 200 flavour notes which delights and wows the senses.”

So, what’s the difference between whisk(e)y and bourbon?

Assistant Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve, Elizabeth McCall – one of the youngest female distillers in the United States, and in line to succeed Chris Morris as Woodford Reserves Master Distiller, explains:

Bourbon is only produced in the United States – mostly in Kentucky, using at least 51% corn in the mashbill. Rye, barley and wheat typically makes up the rest of the blend in varying proportions.

The liquid gains its amber colour from the oak barrels it is aged in, so colour and age are not the only indicators of the quality of the drink. The best way for you to experience the difference is to simply taste it, you will know whether it’s a quality bourbon. Woodford enters the barrel at 55% ABV along with maturation in heavily toasted and charred barrels which contributes towards more caramel notes.

Essentially bourbon is in a class of its own within the whiskey empire and it is gaining greater recognition amongst whisk(e)y drinkers.

When asked as a second-generation working in the bourbon industry how she drinks it? Without pause or hesitation, McCall answers, “Neat or on the rocks.”


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