June 14th is National Bourbon Day! In honour of this, we'd like to provide the ABCs of America's Official Spirit. Cheers 🤠🌽🥃
A. AMERICAN - Not only is Bourbon America's Official Spirit, in order for Bourbon to legally be sold as Bourbon, it must come from America. Though other countries might use the same techniques and ingredients, if it doesn't originate from the USA, then it's not Bourbon.
B. BARRELS - Bourbon must be aged in brand new, charred American oak barrels. This was enacted by the US Government as a way to protect the cooperage (barrel making) industry. As a result, barrels are only used one time and then sold to other spirit makers who don't have this stipulation.
C. CORN - For Bourbon to legally be called Bourbon, the mash bill (ingredients) must be at least 51% corn. Obviously that number can be much higher and different distilleries change the levels and include different grains like wheat and rye in order to achieve their desired flavour profile.
D. DISTILLED - When Bourbon is being distilled it must come off the still no higher than 160 Proof or 80% Alcohol By Volume (ABV). Anything higher than this and it cannot be sold as Bourbon. For reference, Scotch has a limited of 189.6 Proof or 94.8% Alcohol By Volume (ABV).
E. ENTERS THE BARREL - When barrels are filled with new-make, the spirit cannot exceed 120 Proof or 60% Alcohol By Volume (ABV). This number can increase during the aging process but at the time of entering the barrel, it must remain at this level. This can be done by introducing water back into the new spirit before it is barreled.
F. FILLED - Bottles are filled with a spirit that is no lower than 80 Proof or 40% Alcohol By Volume (ABV). For Bourbon to legally be sold as Bourbon, it must at least meet this level. On the flip side, bottles can be filled at "Barrel Strength", "Barrel Proof", or "Cask Strength" which means the ABV exceeds 50%.
G. GENUINE - Bourbon is one of the few spirits that prohibits additives. Unlike Scotch Whisky, Bourbon restricts food colouring along with anything else other than the spirit and water. This means the colour of your bourbon is a reflection of the time the spirit spent in the barrel and the climate where it was aged.