All About Bourbon
All About Bourbon
Bourbon is as much a part of American Heritage as Apple Pie. The Whiskey Rebellion pushed settlers into the lush Kentucky region, which was originally part of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, Governor of Virginia, offered sixty acres of land in Kentucky in exchange for a permanent structure and crops of "native corn". One of the vast original counties was "Bourbon" established in 1785 and named after the French royal family. Today there are 34 counties that were originally part of Bourbon County. ( No bourbon however, is made in Bourbon County today.) The Ohio River port, which shipped Bourbon to the rest of the U. S. stamped the barrels "Old Bourbon" which referred to its origins, not its age. Bourbon soon became synonymous with Whiskey especially in the West.
Abraham Lincoln was born in Bourbon country and his father a distillery worker, sold their homestead for Whiskey and cash. He was said to walk both sides of the line as a teetotaler and proprietor of spirits during the oncoming of prohibition. While most distilleries went under, Early Times is one example of whiskey prospering during The Volstead Act. It was an exception the law made for prescriptions of "medicinal" whiskey. (Today, the Early Times Mint Julep is the Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby.) Fire was another nemesis to the distilleries, but none as horrific as the 1996 Heaven Hill Distillery fire near Bardstown.
Contrary to popular belief, Jack Daniels and George Dickel are not bourbons. They are Tennessee Whiskies. Tennessee whiskey is legally the same as Bourbon. What sets it apart is the process of charcoal mellowing prior to barreling.
Unlike Tennessee Whiskey, Bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky unless it is labeled "Kentucky Bourbon". Bourbon must be distilled from a mash containing at least 51 percent corn, and aged a minimum of two years by a law enacted in 1964. The remainder of the mash is corn, rye, wheat, or malted barley. It must be aged in new charred oak barrels which are sold after use to Canada and Scotland.
Straight Bourbon is as described above. Blended Bourbon has to be at least 51% Straight Bourbon and the rest can be comprised of neutral spirits or whiskey matured in used barrels. Sour Mash Bourbon is a term to describe the government regulated addition of backset or stillage to the fermentation process. Single Barrel is taken from one barrel at one distillery.
You should also know that Bourbon tastes the best out of your own personalized Whiskey glass