Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What is Tennessian Whiskey?

People ask me about this all the time and while I certainly don't mind repeating myself (it's an important job for us elders to perform this task to help youngsters along through life), I figured while I've got this blog about straight bourbon, I might as well discuss it here.  It's what I like to call a Hot Topic.

Tennessian Whiskey is actually quite different than straight bourbon.  First off, it's whiskey from Tennessee.  Also, the distillatte* goes through a process by which it is filtered of all impurities by using old, charred Single Malt Scotch barrels which are actually old straight bourbon barrels (funny enough).  This filtering process, better known as "washing the 'dog"**, occurs three times.  Once complete, the distillate is dumped into new Tennessee Oak Barrels charred at varying level depending on the denseness and "juiciness"*** of the wood.

Tennessian Whiskey is then aged for a bare minimum of 4 years in Rick Houses and then bottled.  What's funny is George Dickel (a Tennessian Whiskey) actually referrs to their Rick Houses as Dick Houses.  Pretty funny.

Here is a basic check list of what makes whiskey, Tennessian Whiskey:
  • Whiskey must be distilled, filtered, aged and bottled in the state of Tennessee
  • Filtering must occur three times using old, used Single Malt Scotch barrels
  • Whiskey must be aged in new Tennesse Oak barrels for at least 4 years in Rick Houses
  • Whiskey must have an employee onsite, within the Rick Houses 24/7/365.
*Distillatte is a fancy way of saying vodka that is fresh off the still.  That's what all whiskey uses prior to aging.  In fact, one of the only major differences between Vodka and Whiskey is the aging part.  That's where Vodka transforms itself, much like a cattapillar to a butterfly, into Whiskey.

**"Washing the 'dog" is a phrase used among Tennessian Distillerators that mean filtering the distillatte through charred Single Malt Scotch barrels.

***Juiciness is a commonly used whiskey industry phrase for moisture in the wood.  Seasoning occurs prior to making whiskey barrels thus removing some moisture from the wood.  Some whiskey distillerators season their oak for 3 weeks, while others will season it up to 5 years (carefull though, the longer the oaks is seasoned, the more likely it is to leak due to the poreosity.

Famous Tennessian Whiskeys:
Jack Daniel
George Dickel
Old Grand Dad


  1. You forgot to mention that Old Grand Dad can only be distilled, bottled, shipped, and sold by men who are Grandfathers. If anyone else touches it before the customer it becomes Old Crow Bourbon.

  2. Obvious you're joking, right?

    Otherwise, you're not that knowledgeable But pls keep reading my blog and soon you'll know everything there is to know about straight bourbon.

  3. Please refer to Kentucky Law 244.240 sub section 5 and 5a.

    244.240 Distiller, rectifier, vintner or wholesaler not to be interested in retail
    premises -- Transactions prohibited.
    No distiller, rectifier, vintner or wholesaler and no employee, servant or agent of a
    distiller, rectifier, vintner or wholesaler shall:
    (1) Be interested directly or indirectly in any way in any premises where distilled spirits
    or wine is sold at retail or in any business devoted wholly or partially to the sale of
    distilled spirits or wine at retail.
    (2) Make or cause to be made any loan to any person engaged in the manufacture or
    sale of distilled spirits or wine at wholesale or retail.
    (3) Make any gift or render any kind of service whatsoever, directly or indirectly, to any
    licensee under KRS 243.030 which in the sound judgment of the board may tend to
    influence the licensee to purchase the product of the distiller, rectifier, vintner or
    (4) Enter into a contract with any retail licensee under KRS 243.020 to 243.670
    whereby the licensee agrees to confine his sales to distilled spirits or wine
    manufactured or sold by one (1) or more such distillers, rectifiers, vintners or
    wholesalers. Such a contract shall be void.
    (5)No man shall make or cause Old Grand Dad Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey unless the children he begat has begat children.
    (5a)If section (5) is not qualified, the Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey shall be label 'Old Crow Bourbon".
    Effective: October 1, 1942
    History: Recodified 1942 Ky. Acts ch. 208, sec. 1, effective October 1, 1942, from Ky.