As bourbon’s global popularity remains on the upswing folks new to bourbon drinking want to learn a little more about America’s native spirit. Here are some of the definitions of what bourbon is all about.
If you’d like to learn more about how and where bourbon is made you should check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail made up of eight of Kentucky’s large distilleries or the Kentucky Bourbon Craft Tour made up of seven smaller craft distilleries. The Urban Bourbon Trail is made up of some of Louisville’s finest restaurants where you can sample some of the world’s best bourbon close to where it’s made.
Some of Bourbon’s Legal Requirements
Law requires bourbon to be made from a grain mixture that’s at least 51% Corn.
Bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels. To be called straight bourbon it must be aged for at least two years in a new charred oak barrel.
If the age of the bourbon in stated on the bottle label it must be the age of the youngest bourbon in the bottle.
Bourbon vs Whiskey
All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey/whisky is bourbon. There are several brands of American and Canadian Whiskeys that differ from bourbon in both taste and method of production.
A bourbon’s proof is another way of stating its alcohol content. A 100 proof bourbon is 50% alcohol, an 80 proof bourbon contains 40% alcohol.
Bottled in Bond
A bourbon labeled bottled in bond must be 100 proof and bottled at the same place it was aged.
A distillery’s master distiller oversees the production of the distillery’s bourbons and is responsible for the quality and consistency of the end product.
A bourbon’s mash bill is a recipe of individual grains that are distilled into a particular bourbon.
The mash is the combination of the cooked grains and yeast that typically ferments in a large vat.
Sour Mash is the method of fermentation that uses a small portion of the previous mash to insure consistency of taste.
A single barrel bourbon has been bottled from one individual barrel chosen for its outstanding flavor profile by the master distiller. Most bourbons are blended from a combination of barrels to insure a consistent flavor but a single barrel bourbon will more than likely differ in taste from year to year and barrel to barrel.
Small batch bourbons are blended from a small handpicked group of barrels chosen by the master distiller.