BENEDICTINE The oldest and perhaps most famous liqueur in the world, Benedictine dates from 1510. Its formula, which calls for twenty seven different herbs, plants, and peels, is a secret that has never been successfully been duplicated. Originally produced by Benedictine monks in an abbey in the Caux district of Normandy, Benedictine takes three years to make, followed by four years of aging.
BITTERS A highly concentrated flavoring agent made from roots, barks, herbs, and/or berries. Bitters are reputed to have medicinal qualities. Some, such as Compari and Fernet-Branca from Italy are believed to be such good stomach settlers and may even be useful in treating hangovers. Bitters such as Angostura are also effective in minute quantities as smoothing out the taste of a particularly harsh or bitter whiskey. Abbot’s bitters have been made in baltimore since 1865, Peychoud bitters come from New Orleans and Orange Bitters are made in England from the dried peels of seville oranges.
BLENDED WHISKEY Blended whiskey came into prominence in the United States during world war II, when distillers made the most of their dwindling stocks of whiskey by mixing them with unaged grain-neutral spirits. By U.S. law, blended whiskey must contain at least 20% straight whiskey. The rest may be unaged grain neutral spirits, pure alcohol with little or no flavor-and that’s exactly what the cheaper, inferior blends tend to be. Actually, there are two types of blended whiskey: the aforementioned cheaper brands in which straight whiskey is blended with grain neutral spirits, and those in which straight whiskeys of varying character and qualities are blended together to produce a distinctive product. Most Scotch, Bourbon, Canadian, rye, and Irish whiskeys currently on the market, including the very best available, are blended whiskeys and fall into this second category.
BOROUVICKA A Czechoslovakian juniper brandy similar to gin.
BOURBON An American whiskey distilled from a fermented mash of grain that is at least 51% corn. Bourbon is aged for at least two years in new charred oak barrels. Bourbon, a true American whiskey, originated in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and even today, most bourbon distilleries in the United States are located in kentucky. Jack Daniels is a high quality Bourbon that is filtered through maple charcoal befor aging.
BRANDY Brandy is distilled from a fermented mash of grapes or other fruit and the aged in white oak casks at least two years and usually bottled at 80 proof. Cognac is an exceptionally smooth brandy with a heady dry aroma produced in the Cognac region of France. Armagnac is similiar to Cognac, but with a drier taste, it is produced in the Armagnac region of France. American Brandy is distilled in California and is unique in that it is produced by the firms that grow the grapes, distill, age, blend, bottle and market the brandies under their own name. American brandy accounts for 75% of brandies sold in the U.S. Apple Brandy (applejack) is distilled from apple cider. Fruit brandies are brandy based liqueurs made from blackberries, apricots, cherries, and ginger and are bottled at 70 to 80 proof.
BUCKS Drink made with an ounce or so of liquor and lemon juice plus ginger ale, and topped with a twist of lemon.