The majority of bourbon is produced in Kentucky, but legally it can be distilled anywhere in America. It is considered the home of bourbon thanks to the states natural resources. From the area's limestone base and hard water to the fertile soil that is perfect for corn, and the ideal climate conditions for barrel aging, it's the perfect place to make great bourbon. However, it is mandatory that this tightly regulated beverage must be produced in the United States. It is considered America's native spirit and one of the most popular styles of whiskey globally.
Know about the Mash Bill
Bourbon needs to be made with a minimum of 51% corn, which contributes to its prominent sweetness. That is why most bourbon is made with over 70% corn. Grains like barley, wheat, and rye make up the rest of the mash bill (mix of fermented grains that are distilled into whiskey). Rye lends a spicy note, while wheat gives a softer, sweeter one.
Distillation of Bourbon
Bourbon is typically double distilled for its amazing smoothness and incredible quality. However, it can’t be distilled to more than 160 proof or 80% alcohol by volume (ABV) initially. It should go into the barrel at no more than 125 proof or 62.5% ABV. If the distillate is higher than that, it has to be diluted with water before going into a barrel. It may not be bottled lower than 80 proof or 40% ABV, though many are stronger than that. Some are bottled at cask strength or barrel proof – it means they aren’t diluted with water between the barrel and bottle.
Aging of Bourbon
As per law, bourbon has to be aged in new oak barrels that are charred on the inside. Most distilleries use a number four or alligator char. Bourbon distillers can’t legally reuse their barrels so they are often sold after first use to age other liquors. Though there isn’t a specific time period for aging, most bourbon spends an average of 4 to 7 years in a barrel.
Types of Bourbon
Bourbon aged at least 2 years can be termed as straight bourbon as long as the age of the whiskey is mentioned. Bourbon that is aged at least 4 years don’t have to list an age statement for straight bourbon.
This designation is slightly complex as it is the product of one distillery from one distilling season. These whiskeys must be aged at least 4 years and bottled at a minimum of 100 proof or 50% ABV.
By law, no flavorings or color additives can be added to bourbon. The general flavor profile can be characterized as having big vanilla, oak, and caramel notes (flavored bourbons are technically whiskey liqueurs). This makes it a perfect whiskey for mixing into cocktails like John Collins or Manhattan, as well as enjoying straight or on the rocks. It is a versatile beverage that can be mixed in almost every drink recipe.
Browse through our varied collection of bourbon at leisure!