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Your Alba From Your Robar

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We're barrelling our way around Kentucky this week.

America's 15th state, Kentucky, is the birthplace of bourbon, crafting 95% of the world’s supply.  Only the Bluegrass State has the perfect natural mix of climate, conditions and pure limestone water necessary for producing the world’s greatest bourbon, and we've been visiting some of the finest distilleries.  It's no coincidence that it's also where some of the world's best coopers craft barrels from American oakCarney and Ned have been to Buffalo Trace, Peerless and Corsair in Nashville, admiring the mighty oaks and getting the full education.

Filming is part of ongoing documentary production for Waterford Distillery in Ireland and Renegade Rum in Grenada.  Founder Mark Reynier and the team are particular about the wood in which their spirit is matured.  Bourbon barrels and the specific wood selected for their staves contributes an enormous amount to the final product.  The Bourbon barrel is made from Quercus Alba or white oak, commonly known as American oak.  The cellular composition contains bubble-like cell structures

called tyloses that bulge into the cavities of the xylem, making the wood particularly watertight, allowing for thinner staves - and sawn oak, rather than split, essential for mechanised, mass-production barrel-making.  Bourbon distillers seek dark colours, high levels of vanilla and caramel flavours that bourbon (distilled from maize) draws out from the heavily charred barrels.  After prohibition in 1935, this long established new oak tradition was made federal law: used once only, the barrels had to be discarded, and were then picked up by Scottish and Irish distillers.

The boys have been filming in forests with the University of Kentucky, learning about forest management and the different types of American oak. They've been to a stave mill in the deep heart of the South and seen how the oak is quarter-cut into staves. Then they squeezed in a gig with Darius Rucker, who has released his own bourbon too. There's some pretty tight legislation around production of bourbon but it's not stopping innovative and creative whiskey being made for a new crowd who want to explore the tastes and stories this elixir has to offer. It's an American dream from forest to glass with its important cultural heritage having a massive influence on the spirit.

The trip has also provided a fantastic opportunity to test drive the new Canon C300 Mark II and DJI Osmo, both documenting the journey in glorious 4K.