Ten Bourbon Terms You Need To Know
19-12-2017 By Nokulunga Msibi

Bourbon - American whiskey distilled from a minimum of 51% corn, distilled to no more than 80% abv, filled into new charred oak barrels at no more than 62.5% abv.

Barrel proof - Barrel proof whiskey is also known as cask strength. Barrel proof describes the level of abv of a bourbon when it leaves the barrel. This bourbon is drawn straight from the cask for bottling with no water added before bottling.

Bottled-In -Bond - In 1897 the US government created the Bottled in Bond Act to create a standard quality for Bourbon whiskey. To be labeled as Bottled in Bond or bonded, the liquor must be the product of one distillation season and one distiller at one distillery. It must have been aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 50% abv or 100 proof. The bottled product's label must identify the distillery where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled.

Mash Bill - The grain recipe used to make whiskey, it is the mix of grains used to make bourbon. Legally, bourbon must contain at least 51% corn, the rest of the grains used depend on the distillery. Other grains used inlcude rye, wheat and barley.

Sour Mash - A sour mash is made by taking a portion of previously used mash and adding it to a fresh batch. This is part of the production process where distilleries regulate the bacterial growth and a continuity from batch to batch. Sour mash is added to the new mash just before yeast is added in the prodcution process.

Proof - Proof is a standard measure of alcohol in alcoholic beverages. In the US, proof is twice the percentage of alcohol by volume.

Small batch - product of mingling select whiskey barrels that have matured in a specific style. The bourbon industry standard is 150 barrels or less. Small batch has become a marketing term.

Wheater - a wheater is bourbon that contains wheat as its secondary grain instead of rye in its mash bill.

High Rye - a high rye bourbon is one that contains rye as its secondary grain instead of wheat in its mash bill.

Straight Bourbon - straight bourbon must be at least two years old. If it's older than two but younger than four years, it must carry an age statement, and that age statement must reflect the youngest bourbon in the bottle. Straight bourbon may not contain added colourings or flavorings.