Biographical Non-Fiction posted May 16, 2023 Chapters: 1 -2- 3... 

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Comparing Tennessee Whiskey And Kentucky Bourbon

A chapter in the book Whiskey Talking

Cottage Industry

by Brett Matthew West

A historical account of Jack Daniel's whiskey.
(Chapter One of this novella, entitled Nathan Nearest Green, begins the story of Jack Daniels and explains how a slave taught him how to distill the world's most famous whiskey when he was still a young boy.)


Many Modern Day connoisseurs regard Jack Daniels as the singlemost important blend of whiskey in the world, and the one that opened doors for every brand of popular bourbon as well.

Forty-two distilleries can be explored on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Visitors to these locations experience a firsthand examination of the art of crafting bourbon, Kentucky's Signature Spirit. There are more distilleries in the state of Kentucky than there are in Tennessee, which has thirty-eight distilleries located along its Tennessee Whiskey Trail.

Highly coveted, almost to the point of possessing a cult following, Pappy Van Winkle remains Kentucky's most sought after bourbon. A single bottle of this liquor can sell for astronomical prices, up to $3,000 each. Rare, and only offered in limited supplies, Pappy Van Winkle stays in high demand the year around.

Distilled, and bottled, at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfurt, Kentucky, Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve is thought to be one of the finest bourbons on the globe, as well as one of the planet's most expensive.

Brewed 15, 20, or 23 years in oak barrels, Pappy Van Winkle uses corn, wheat, and barley malt to brew its bourbon. Twenty year old Pappy Van Winkle contains a very fruity flavor. Still, Tennessee makes the American whiskey most whisky drinkers in the United States consume.

Created in 1866 in Lynchburg, before Prohibition, the charcoal-mellowed Jack Daniel's was merely considered a well-regarded regional blend made with iron-free cave spring water. Today, there are some ten million cases of Jack Daniel's sold annually in 170 countries world-wide.

In 2009, when doing so became legal, Jack Daniel's helped launch a major increase in the number of distilleries in Tennessee. In fact, new distilleries seem to appear online monthly. Tennessee state law mandates whiskey brewed in Tennessee must be filtered through charcoal.

Jack Daniel's Historian Nelson Eddy stated, "At the end of the 1800s there were 700 distilleries in the state of Tennessee."

Both Tennessee and Kentucky possessed the critical elements for whiskey including abundant corn (bourbon's main ingredient), limestone for leaching the required minerals into the water, cold winters, and hot summers that pushed aging whiskey in and out of their barrels' wooden staves.

Whiskey making in Tennessee and Kentucky began as a cottage industry. Farmers discovered placing their corn in a bottle to be a good way to preserve the corn. Aged in a barrel, the corn became much more valuable to the farmers.

Many of the earliest distillers of Tennessee and Kentucky were slaves. Auction records showed Black Caribbean distillers often sold for more dinero than the average slave fetched on the market.

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Typically made from a mix of fermented, or malted grains, corn being one of them, whiskey is generally aged in charred white oak wooden casks. Stills for brewing whiskey are usually made from copper because it removes sulfer-based compounds from the alcohol that would cause the finished product to be unplesant to consume

The simplest apparatus used to distill whiskey is called a "pot still". It contains a single heated chamber and a vessel to collect the purified alcohol. Whiskey only ages in a cask. Its age is the time between distillation and bottling. While whiskey ages it undergoes the six processes of extraction, oxidation, evaporation, filtration, concentration, and coloration.

During the American Revolution, George Washington operated a sizable distillery at Mount Vernon. That timeframe also saw whiskey used as a form of currency. In 1791, taxing whiskey caused the Whiskey Rebellion.

Bourbon is predominantly brewed from corn. 51% of its mash is required to be that item. Bourbon can fill its other 49% with rye, wheat, barley, and various other grains. Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels starting at no more than 125% proof, and bottled at a minimum of 80% proof.

Many times bourbon is diluted with water by producers to make the liquor more palatable straight out of the bottle. Bourbon can be drunk almost any way including without ice, on the rocks, poured into cocktails, or even with pickle brine chasers if one so desires.

Bourbon is normally brewed in column stills. These may also be called patent stills, continuous stills, or Coffey stills. Known as an analyzer, the first column of this still has steam rising, and wash descending, through several levels. Known as a rectifier, the second column transports the alcohol away from the wash, and circulates it, until it condenses to the required strength.


Days of Wine and Roses, by avmurray, selected to complement my novella.

In no way, shape, form or fashion is this novella intended to promote alcohol consumption.

It is my staunch belief if someone has an addiction to alcohol there are a myriad of organizations available to assist them.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by avmurray at

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