Angel’s Share The portion of Bourbon in an aging barrel that’s lost to evaporation.
Backset The thin, watery part of a previously distilled batch of whiskey mash that is added ‒ or “set back” ‒ into the next batch. Also “sour mash, setback, stillage or spent beer.”
Barrel Proof “Barrel Proof” on a distilled spirits label indicates that the bottling proof is within two degrees of the proof of the spirit in the barrel when it was dumped for bottling. It is generally understood that no water is added to barrel proof whiskey before it goes into the bottle.
Bottled In Bond In 1897 the Bottled in Bond Act provided for whiskey to be produced under government supervision that was all the product of one distillery, made in the same season and aged for at least four years in bonded warehouses and bottled at 100 proof.
Bourbon A whiskey made in the United States from a mash containing at least 51 percent corn, distilled at a maximum of 160° proof, enters the barrel at no more than 125° proof, is aged in a new charred oak container (usually a barrel), and bottled at no less than 80 proof. No coloring or flavoring may be added.
Bung The stopper used to seal a barrel.
Charring The process that sets fire to the interior of barrels for less than one minute and creates a layer of charred wood. Distillers can choose from four levels of char.
Column Still Also called a “continuous still,” a column still is a very tall metal column used to separate the alcohol from the water in the distiller’s beer by vaporizing the alcohol content. The distiller’s beer and steam is continuously pumped into the column as opposed to distilling in smaller batches. The spirit produced is called “low wines.”
Corn Whiskey A whiskey made from a mash containing a minimum of 80 percent corn and, if it is aged at all, must be aged in used or uncharred oak barrels.
Distillate The clear, white spirit that comes off the still before aging. See also “white dog.”
Distiller’s Beer The thick, fermented mash of cooked grains, water and yeast that is transferred from the fermenter to the beer still for the first distillation.
Doubler A large copper still used to accomplish the second distillation of American whiskey. It effectively removes impurities and concentrates the alcohol even further. “Low wines” go in; “high wines” come out.
Entry Proof The proof level of the new make (see also white dog) whiskey that goes into the barrels before aging.
Fermentation The process by which yeast transforms sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Fermenter A large container in which the mash of cooked grains and water meets the yeast. They mingle, the yeast begins to act on sugars in the grain, and fermentation occurs over a few days. This produces alcohol within the mash and turns it into distiller’s beer.
Finishing Also known as a secondary maturation, double matured or wood-finished, the process of finishing involves adding an additional aging process into the orginal barrel – or – dumping a barrel of whiskey into a second barrel or cask. The second barrel may be new or may have been previously used to age another product such us wine, sherry, port, rum, etc.
Heads & Tails The parts of the distillate that contain undesirable alcohols and compounds that will not be used in the final product.
Hearts During the distilling process different alcohols evaporate at different rates. Hearts are the main part of the distillate that the distiller keeps for the final product; this part of the distillate contain the highest levels of ethanol and is generally devoid of any undesirable components.
High Wines The final spirit produced by the secondary distillation, ready for aging.
Kentucky Bourbon Bourbon that has been produced from grains which are cooked, fermented, and distilled in Kentucky; the Bourbon then must be aged in Kentucky for a period of not less than one (1) year in order to have the word “Kentucky” or any word or phrase implying Kentucky origin appear on the front label or elsewhere on the retail container or package.
Kentucky Straight Bourbon To be classified Kentucky Straight Bourbon, the guidelines of Straight Bourbon must be adhered to, in addition to having been distilled and aged for at least one (1) year in Kentucky.
Low Wines The name of the spirit after it has passed through the beer or continuous still for its first distillation.
Malted Barley Barley that has been partially germinated and then heated or roasted to stop the germination. Malted barley (or any malted grain) contains enzymes that convert starches into the fermentable sugars on which yeast feeds. These enzymes are not present in unmalted grains.
Mash The mixture of cooked grains and water before the yeast is added to start fermentation.
Mash Bill The grain recipe used to make whiskey.
Mash Tub A large tub where the grains are combined with water and cooked to soften them and break down the starch into simple sugars before the resulting “mash” is transferred to the fermenter. Also called a “cooker.”
Nose The aroma of a whiskey.
Pot Still A pot still is generally used to produce batches of spirits, as opposed to production in a continuous or column still. Heat is applied directly to the pot containing the mash to separate the alcohol from the distiller’s beer. The spirit produced is called “low wines.”
Proof Measurement of beverage alcohol on a scale, in America, of 200. A 100° proof spirit contains 50 percent alcohol.
Rickhouse The building in which whiskey is aged, sometimes referred to as the “rackhouse” or “warehouse.”
Ricks The wooden structures on which barrels of whiskey rest during aging.
Rye Whiskey (straight) A whiskey made from a mash containing at least 51 percent rye, distilled out at a maximum of 160° proof, aged at no more than 125° proof for a minimum of two (2) years in new charred oak barrels. If the whiskey is aged for less than four (4) years, its age must be stated on the bottle. No coloring or flavoring may be added to any straight whiskey.
Secondary Maturation Also known as a finishing, double matured or wood-finished, the process of secondary maturation involves adding an additional aging process into the orginal barrel – or – dumping a barrel of whiskey into a second barrel or cask. The second barrel may be new or may have been previously used to age another product such us wine, sherry, port, rum, etc.
Single Barrel Whiskey drawn from one barrel that has not been mingled with any other whiskeys.
Small Batch A product of mingling select barrels of whiskey that have matured into a specific style.
Straight Bourbon To be classified as Straight Bourbon, the whiskey has to conform to all the guidelines for Bourbon and be aged in that charred oak container for at least two (2) years. If it is aged less than four (4) years, an age statement must also appear on the label.
Thief A tubular instrument for removing a sample from a barrel.
Thumper One of the types of stills used to accomplish the second distillation of American whiskey. It effectively removes impurities and concentrates the alcohol even further. “Low wines” go in; “high wines” come out. Thumpers differ from doublers in that the low wines enter a thumper as vapors that are bubbled through water, causing the stills to make a thumping sound; a doubler makes no distinctive noise since the low wines enter in condensed, liquid form.
Wheated Bourbon Bourbon made from a mashbill that contains wheat instead of rye grain.
White Dog White dog, or new make, is the unaged clear whiskey distillate that comes off of the still before aging.
Yeast A living organism that feeds on fermentable sugars, transforming them to beverage alcohol, congeners, carbon dioxide, and heat.
Enjoy Like a True Kentuckian: Responsibly