· The label must identify the distillery, including their DSP number, and the bottling facility if different from the distillery
National Bourbon Day!
It’s National Bourbon Day! What better day to appreciate the United States’ national spirit?
That’s right, bourbon is an American whiskey. Despite a very common misconception, bourbon can be made in ANY state, not just Kentucky, but it can ONLY be made in the United States.
What are some of the other rules that make bourbon bourbon?
· It has to be at least 51% corn
· It has to be distilled at 160 Proof or less (80 percent Alcohol by Volume aka ABV)
· It has to go into the Barrel at 125 proof or less (62.5 percent ABV)
· It has to go into the bottle at 80 proof or more (40 percent ABV)
· It has to be in a new, unused, charred oak container
· It can have zero added color or flavor
There is no minimum age requirement on a bourbon. 20 seconds would be enough to legally call it a bourbon, but that would give it no color and no flavor. It would also waste the very expensive barrel because barrels can only be used one time for bourbon. Some bourbons are aged 6 months, but most are aged longer. To be called a straight bourbon, it has to be aged at least 2 years. Most premium bourbons are aged 4 or more years.
Bourbon is at least 51% corn, but many are higher in corn percentage, and contain other grains in their mash bill such as rye, wheat, barley, and malted barley. Any cereal grain can be added to a mash bill to create different flavors.
Aside from high rye and wheated bourbon, there are a variety of types of bourbons on the market.
Single barrel bourbons are exactly that. They come from one single barrel. Blending various ages of bourbons is a very common practice to get the consistent flavor the brand is looking for, but single barrel bourbons are from only one barrel from the rickhouse/rackhouse.
Barrel proof bourbon, again, is just how it sounds. It’s the bourbon right out of the barrel. No water is added to bring it down to the minimum of 80 proof (40 percent ABV), so the proof on these bottles is going to be substantially higher. Some of us enjoy the barrel proof bourbons neat, while others like to add a little water at our own discretion to open up the flavors and bring it down to a more drinkable proof. Some say these bottles are a higher value because you can dilute it as much or as little as you want, rather than the already diluted standard bourbon in the same 750ml bottle.
Small batch bourbon is something I am seeing more and more, both from the smaller craft distillers and the huge corporations. This term can be confusing as there is no legal definition. I have heard some distilleries say it’s a small batch from the still. I have heard others say it’s a small batch of barrels they have blended for this particular release. My understanding is that it’s a very selective batch of bourbon, however it gets to that point.
Bottled in Bond, or BIB as you may see it commonly referred, is my particular favorite. If I go to a bar and ask for a particular brand of bourbon and they ask if I want standard or Bottled in Bond, I always choose Bottled in Bond. The Bottled-in-Bond act of1897 was one of the very first laws regulating the Food and Alcohol industry in the United States. It came about because a lot of people were putting disgusting things in a bottle and selling it as whiskey. Some of these things caused illness or death. The Bottled-in-Bond Act made it so consumers knew what they were buying. The Act has many requirements:
· Bottled in Bond whiskey has to be produced in one distillation season by one distiller at one distillery
· It has to be stored in a bonded warehouse (nowadays all warehouses are bonded)
· It has to be aged at least 4 years (which for us means more flavor and color)
· It has to be at least 100 proof (50 percent ABV)
The history of bourbon is really interesting and there are so many amazing distilleries out there with stories and histories of their own. Go visit a local distillery (they are in every state), hear their story and give their bourbon a shot. However you celebrate National Bourbon Day, I hope you do so with a dram of something you love or something new that you find yourself loving! Here’s to National Bourbon Day! Cheers!
As always, drink responsibly!