Why is it called sour mash? It’s called “sour” because it’s just like how sourdough bread is made. It borrows the name from using a sourdough starter.
As it happens with a lot of marketing, sour mash is not unique to Jack Daniel’s. Nearly all bourbon is produced this way.
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Ever wonder why Jack Daniel’s calls itself “sour mash” whiskey? Ever since doing shot after shot after shot of Jack in college, I’ve always wondered what “sour mash” meant.
It sure didn’t taste sour.
Now that it’s been years and I’ve become more invested in the process of drinking, rather than the result, I wanted to know.
So a little background, whisky production is a lot like beer production, except you distill the product and age it in barrels. (if you want to read about whisky production, WhiskyForEveryone has this great writeup on how whisky is made)
The part that matters when you talk about “sour mash” is the mashing process. It’s when the grounded down malt is added to warm water to pull out the sugars from the malt – that mixture is called mash. That sugar will be fermented by yeast to product alcohol.
Sour mash just means that the mash from a previous batch, which still has live yeast, is added to the current one to start the fermentation process. Using the sour mash from a previous batch helps with consistency, maintains an ideal PH, and a bunch of other good stuff.
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