In recent years, apparel companies have bombarded the media with “clothing scripts” for their Tour players for each of golf’s Majors. Daily outfits are carefully chosen to reflect whatever is on the agenda of clothier and player. It is in that spirit that I offer my own PGA Championship Scripting.
As this year’s PGA Championship is at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky, I thought it appropriate to offer a script for that state’s most famous drink: Bourbon. Ninety-five percent of all bourbon is made in Kentucky. Bourbon also happens to be one of my two favorite adult beverages (the other is hard cider).
Bourbon is a “whisky,” made primarily of corn and aged in charred oak barrels. Federal Standards say that for a “whisky” to be a “bourbon,” it has to meet the following:
Produced in the United States
Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
Aged in new, charred oak barrels
Distilled to no more than 160 proof
Entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof
Bottled at 80 proof or more
Bourbon begins life as a mash bill consisting of at least 51% corn, with the rest being small grains such as wheat, rye or barley. The grains are ground and mixed with water and yeast. After the mash has fermented to the “wash,” it is distilled to produce spirit consisting of 65% to 80% alcohol. The spirits are then stored in new charred oak barrels for aging.
The aging process is what gives bourbon its color and flavor. As the seasons and temperatures change, the spirits are absorbed into, and pushed out of the wood of the barrel, picking up flavors from the caramelized sugars in the charred wood. Evaporation and oxidation also take place. Bourbon barrels will be rotated vertically throughout the storage barns to ensure even aging.
After reaching maturity, the bourbons are usually diluted with water and bottled to 80 proof. The barrels, which cannot be reused, may contain as much as 20 pounds of bourbon within the wood—the infamous “Devil’s Cut.” Although this can potentially be extracted, the barrels are generally simply sold to the Scots for aging their Scotch.
A few years ago, I took the GolfBlogger family to a tour of the Maker’s Mark factory in Loretto, Kentucky. It was one of the most fascinating things we have done. Both of our boys loved it and still recall the gleaming distillery equipment, the giant vats of mash, the barrels in the barn and, of course, the wax sealing process. I recommend it if you’re ever passing through Kentucky.