How important is the mash?

"At Jim Beam, everything we make, we use the sour mash process. A lot of people think that sour mash is a product that only comes from Tennessee. Over the years, through movies and such, people have been taught to associate sour mash with a black-labeled product from Tennessee. But really the sour mash process was started by Dr. Crow, who started the Old Crow Distilling Company in Kentucky.

"He discovered that when you mash the grain—when all the grains go in the cooker and we stir them up and cook them—if you bring part of the stillage (what’s left over after you distill the bourbon and take the alcohol out of the mash) back into your next batch of fresh mash—much like with a friendship bread—you get greater consistency. Without a good mashing process, you won’t produce the alcohol you’re looking for."