Bourbon Brings People Together
It’s not often that Congress passes a bill by unanimous vote. If you’re wondering what issue can bring both sides of the aisle together, you need look no further than bourbon. In 2007, the United States Senate unanimously passed a declaration creating a National Bourbon Heritage Month. The Senate approved the resolution before its summer break, but couldn’t find time to complete work on Pentagon spending or even the Farm Bill.
Some Interesting Bourbon Facts
The origin of the term “bourbon” is disputed.
Many assume that bourbon gets its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky. This may be true, but many historians believe that it actually gets its name from Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where Kentucky whiskey was shipped via the Mississippi River for trade.
A lot of Scotch contains some bourbon.
Legally, bourbon must be aged in brand-new barrels, therefore distilleries can’t reuse them. Many of these barrels are sent to distilleries in Scotland, which utilize them for aging their own spirits. Often, there can be several gallons of bourbon that remain trapped in the oak. This trapped bourbon mixes with the Scotch during aging and can impart a distinct flavor profile.
If it’s bourbon, it’s made in America.
Again, this is law. Some people think bourbon has to come from Kentucky, this is not true. Although, most of the major distilleries are located there.
Bourbon is tightly regulated.
In order to achieve consistent flavor and color throughout thousands of batches, distilleries producing Scotch and Irish whiskey often supplement their distillate with additional flavors and colors. When it comes to bourbon, that practice is illegal. What you find in the bottle is what comes from the barrel. Bourbon’s regulations, some of the most rigid of any spirit, also require it to be made in the United States, be aged in brand-new charred oak barrels, and be made from at least 51 percent corn. Remember: all bourbons are whiskey, not all whiskeys are bourbons.
Many bourbons don’t state their age.
It’s essentially standard practice with Scotch to boast about how many years the spirit has been aged. Bourbon is a whole different animal. When spirits age, they gain flavor and color from the wooden barrel. Climate has a lot to do with the speed at which this occurs. Kentucky has much hotter summers than Scotland, therefore bourbon companies claim it ages faster. Some claim it can age three to four times faster. Bourbon can hit it’s peak in nine to 12 years—an age that is considered young by Scotch standards. Additionally, many bottles of bourbon come from a blend of different batches that may range in age by several years. Distillers must make an age claim that reflects the youngest whiskey in the batch, making the spirit appear misleadingly young.
There you have it, some fascinating facts about a uniquely American liquor. So tonight as you pour a tipple of bourbon over one of our handcrafted whiskey stones, reflect on the complexity of all that goes into creating America’s great bourbon whiskey.