All bourbon is usually said to be whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Therefore, it can be said that bourbon is a type of whiskey that must be made of at least 51 percent corn, aged in new, charred oak barrels/containers. It can be made in any state in the U.S., but Kentucky makes about 95 percent, while other states produce the remaining 5 percent. Still, it is a distinctive product of the United States, as recognized by the United States Congress in 1964.
The bourbon industry has experienced great development and growth over the years. They are of high class, quality and value. There are also lots of producers and recipes to choose from, alongside with ages and prices specifications. But the question remains, how is bourbon made? By providing answers to this question, we will have an understanding of what bourbon truly is.
Let’s consider the basics…
Mash bill of at least 51 percent corn
This is the first basis. If this isn’t fulfilled, there will be no production of bourbon. The mash bill is the grain make-up in any whiskey. For bourbon, the grain make-up must be 51 percent or more. This is the standard identity throughout history for bourbon. Other grains that makes up the mash bill can include wheat or rye, and also a small portion of about 5 percent of malted barley, as it aids in the fermentation process.
Aged in new, charred oak barrels
To make bourbon, barrels that had not previously been used or charred, should be used. Though, this legislation was initially passed to protect the timber industry, yet, it also helped to ensure a quality and rich character of the spirit. It can also be in containers. It used to be sold by the barrels.
Distilled to not more than 160 proof
Bourbon must not be involved with the process of separation for more than 160 proof, 80 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV). If this is not followed closely, it becomes a neutral grain spirit; as it retains less flavor, when distilled with an higher proof. Some types of whiskey allows up to 95 percent ABV, but not bourbon.
Barrelled to not more than 125 proof
Bourbon should enter the barrel at no more than 125 proof. It cannot go into a barrel at above 62.5 percent ABV. Since bourbon increases in proof as it ages, some distilleries may choose to barrel at a lower proof than this, as long as it isn’t above 125 proof, there is no problem.
Bottled no lower than 80 proof
Bourbon should be bottled at 80 proof, 40 percent ABV or higher. This is its minimum.
No minimum age requirement
As long as bourbon is barrelled correctly, aging really has no requirement for how long or less. It can go for any amount of time. But, there are two exceptions to this – straight bourbon whiskey has to be aged for a minimum of two years, and bottled-in-bond must be aged for at least four years.
These are the basics of bourbon discussed above. Want to be sure of the right thing? Kentucky Artisan Distillery is one of the few that produces bourbon and spirits literally from the roots to the bottle, all by hand and not computer. Kentucky Artisan Distillery is the official home of Jefferson’s Bourbon.