What state has the best bourbon selection?

Answered by Andrew Fritz

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to explore and taste whiskeys from various regions across the United States. While there are many states that produce excellent , I would confidently say that Kentucky stands out as the premier -distilling region in the country.

Kentucky has a rich history and tradition when it comes to bourbon production. The limestone-filtered in the region, along with the unique climate and soil conditions, contributes to the distinct flavor profile of Kentucky bourbon. The state is home to numerous iconic distilleries, such as Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, and Woodford Reserve, that have been producing high-quality bourbon for generations.

One of the factors that sets Kentucky apart is its adherence to strict production regulations. To be labeled as bourbon, the whiskey must be made in the United States and aged in new charred oak . Additionally, it must have a mash bill that consists of at least 51% corn and be distilled to no more than 160 proof. These regulations ensure that Kentucky bourbon maintains a certain level of quality and consistency.

I have had the pleasure of visiting some of the distilleries in Kentucky and witnessing the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into creating their bourbons. The passion and dedication of the distillers are palpable, and it translates into the exceptional flavors and aromas found in their products. The bourbon produced in Kentucky often exhibits notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and a rich, full-bodied character that is highly sought after by whiskey enthusiasts.

While Kentucky may take the crown as the top bourbon-producing state, it would be remiss not to mention as a close second. Tennessee whiskey, which is often compared to bourbon due to its similar production methods, also has a strong presence in the whiskey industry.

Tennessee whiskey, most notably represented by the iconic brand Jack Daniel's, undergoes a charcoal filtering process known as the Lincoln County Process. This extra step adds a unique layer of smoothness and mellowness to the whiskey, setting it apart from traditional bourbons. The distinct flavor profile of Tennessee whiskey, with its hints of maple, charcoal, and a slightly sweeter taste compared to bourbon, has garnered a loyal following.

In my experience, both Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey offer exceptional choices for whiskey enthusiasts. The decision between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some may prefer the bold and robust flavors of Kentucky bourbon, while others may gravitate towards the smoothness and sweetness of Tennessee whiskey.

While there are many states in the United States that produce outstanding bourbon, Kentucky is widely recognized as the premier whiskey-distilling region. Its rich history, adherence to strict production regulations, and the exceptional craftsmanship of its distillers have solidified its reputation as the go-to destination for bourbon enthusiasts. However, Tennessee also deserves recognition as a close second, with its unique charcoal filtering process and distinctive flavor profile. Ultimately, the best bourbon selection is subjective and depends on individual taste preferences.