Whisk(e)y 101: Facts About Bourbon
28-08-2017 By Nokulunga Msibi

Bourbon is an iconic American spirit dating back to the 18th century. It is an American spirit that is made primarily from corn. What makes bourbon - bourbon? A few hurdles that bourbons jump to be considered bourbon.

To be called bourbon, bourbon must:

  1. 51% of the grain mash must be corn. This is what gives bourbon its sweet taste.
  2. The spirit must be made in United States of America and must be matured in new, charred American oak barrels.
  3. Bourbon can not contain any added flavoring, coloring or additives.
  4. Bourbon must be bottled at 80 proof/40% abv or more.
  5. Bourbon must be entered into the barrel for maturation at no more than 125 proof/62.5% abv.

Some more facts about bourbon:

  1. Not surprising, 95% of all bourbon comes from the State of Kentucky.
  2. Un-aged bourbon is called white dog. This is the spirit that goes into the new charred American oak barrels.
  3. Jack Daniel's is not bourbon. It is a Tenessee whisky. Jack Daniel's is dripped slowly through charcoal before going into new charred oak barrels for maturing. This step called charcoal mellowing, is the reason Jack Daniel's is not bourbon.
  4. Straight bourbon is bourbon that has spent at least 2 years in a barrel.
  5. Charred oak barrels are barrels that have been set on fire by coopers to produce a layer of charcoal that adds to the flavour of the bourbon.