November 21, 2021

What is Bourbon?!

New to Whiskey? Wondering what the heck bourbon even is? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

There are several requirements for a whiskey to be called bourbon.

  • Must be made from at least 51% corn
  • Must be aged in a new, charred oak barrel
  • Must be lower than 80% alcohol (160 proof)
  • Must be introduced into the barrel at under 62.5% alcohol (125) proof

All whiskey is made from grain, fermented, distilled, and aged in barrels. Bourbon gets its sweeter characteristics from a grain mash that's made primarily from corn. In order to create unique flavors and set themselves apart from the competition distillers use different grains to fill the rest of their mash, source their grain carefully, start with specific yeast strains for the fermentation process, and come up with different ways to aid the maturation of their whiskey.

Fun fact: Whiskey made from a mash bill consisting of at least 80% corn switches from being called bourbon to American corn whiskey.

If a bourbon had been aged for a minimum of 2 years it is then allowed the option of labeling it "Straight". Any straight bourbon aged under 4 years must state its age on the bottle. Bourbon that's "Bottled-in-bond" is straight bourbon that has been aged for at least 4 years.

Fun fact: Bourbon that has been aged for under 3 years can't be called "Whiskey" in the European Union.

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