Mike Parker

Bourbon Essentials

Friday, July 27, 2018 at 9:26 AM
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Bourbon whiskey, sometimes referred to as the poor man’s cognac, is a quintessential American spirit, commonly associated with the American south, and specifically with Kentucky, which folklore assigns as the birthplace of Bourbon. But just what is bourbon, and what makes it different from any other whiskey? Glad you asked!

By U.S. federal regulations, a spirit intended for consumption in consumption in the United States cannot be labeled as “Bourbon” unless it is:
Produced in the United States

  • Is made from a grain mixture containing at least 51 percent corn
  • Is aged in new, charred oak containers
  • Is distilled to no more than 160 proof
  • Enters the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof
  • Is bottled at a minimum of 80 proof

Bourbon whiskey that has been aged for a minimum of two years, and does not have added coloring, flavoring, or other spirits may be labeled as Straight Bourbon.

Declared by a concurrent resolution of Congress to be "distinctive product of the United States" bourbon often touted as “America’s Native Spirit.” While nothing in federal regulations require bourbon to be produced in Kentucky, with more than 5.3 million barrels of bourbon that are aging, that state is responsible for approximately 95 percent of all bourbon produced in the United State.