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Bourbon is an American form of whiskey named for Bourbon County, Kentucky. By United States law, it consists of at least 51% corn — typically about 70% — with the remainder being wheat and/or rye, and malted barley. It is distilled to no more than 160 ( U.S.) proof, and aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years. The two years maturation process is not a legal requirement for a whiskey to be called "bourbon," but it is a legal requirement for "straight bourbon." However, in practice, most bourbon whiskeys are aged for at least four years.

Bourbon must be put into the barrels at no more than 125 U.S. proof. After aging it is diluted with water and bottled. Bottling proof for whiskey must be at least 80 proof (40% abv) and most whiskey is sold at 80 proof. Other common proofs are 86, 90, 94, 100 and 107, and whiskeys of up to 142 proof have been sold. Some higher proof bottlings are "barrel proof."

Bourbon can legally be made anywhere in the United States where it is legal to distill spirits. Legitimate production is not restricted to Kentucky, although currently all but a few brands are made there, and the drink is associated strongly with that commonwealth. Illinois once produced nearly as much bourbon whiskey as Kentucky, and bourbon continues to be made in Virginia. In the past bourbon has been made in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas.



Popular types


The first permanent European-American settlement in what is now Kentucky was Fort Harrod (modern Harrodsburg, Kentucky), which was established in 1774. The residents immediately planted corn (maize). Within a few years, when their harvests exceeded what they and their livestock could eat, they began to convert the rest into whiskey, because it didn't spoil and could be transported more readily than the grain itself. Here is how this whiskey came to be called "bourbon":

“ When American pioneers pushed west of the Allegheny Mountains following the Revolution, the first counties they founded covered vast regions. One of these original, huge counties was Bourbon, established in 1785 and named after the French royal family. While this vast county was being carved into many smaller ones, early in the 19th century, many people continued to call the region Old Bourbon. Located within Old Bourbon was the principal Ohio River port from which whiskey and other products were shipped to market. "Old Bourbon" was stenciled on the barrels to indicate their port of origin. Old Bourbon whiskey was different because it was the first corn whiskey most people had ever tasted, and they liked it. In time, bourbon became the name for any corn-based whiskey. ”

It is often written that many of the original distillers of bourbon were Pennsylvanians fleeing taxation during and after the Whiskey Rebellion, but this claim is widely disputed.

A refinement usually credited to Dr. James C. Crow was the sour mash process, by which each new fermentation is conditioned with some amount of spent mash (previously fermented mash that has been separated from its alcohol). The acid introduced by using the sour mash controls the growth of bacteria that could taint the whiskey and creates a proper pH balance for the yeast to work. As of 2005, all straight bourbons use a sour mash process. Dr. Crow developed this refinement while working at the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery (now the Woodford Reserve Distillery) in Woodford County, Kentucky. (Spent mash is also known as distillers spent grain, stillage, slop or feed mash, so named because it is used as animal feed.)

Most bourbons are distilled in Kentucky and it is widely but mistakenly believed that only Kentucky whiskey can properly be called bourbon. As of today, there are no running distilleries within the current boundaries of Bourbon County due to new counties being formed from Bourbon County since early whiskey making days.

An act of the U.S. Congress in 1964 declared bourbon to be " America's Native Spirit" and its official distilled spirit. A concurrent resolution of the U.S. Congress restricted bourbon to U.S. production. Some of the most common stories about its origins are untrue, such as its invention by Baptist minister and distiller Elijah Craig. Each county in Kentucky tends to name a favorite son as the "inventor" of bourbon. In fact, there was no single "inventor" of the product, which evolved into its present form only in the late 19th century.

The List of bourbon brands is a list of bourbon whiskeys and their distilleries.

Kentucky Bourbons

  • Ancient Age — Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Baker's— Clermont, Kentucky
  • Basil Hayden's — Clermont, Kentucky
  • Black Maple Hill - Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Blanton's — Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Booker's — Clermont, Kentucky
  • Brown-Forman — Kentucky
  • Buffalo Trace — Franklin County, Kentucky
  • Bulleit Bourbon — Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
  • Corner Creek — Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Eagle Rare — Franklin County, Kentucky
  • Early Times — Louisville, Kentucky (Export version)
  • Elijah Craig — Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Elmer T. Lee — Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Evan Williams — Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Fighting Cock — Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Four Roses — Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
  • George T. Stagg— Franklin County, Kentucky
  • Heaven Hill — Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Jim Beam — Clermont, Kentucky (Open to the public as part of the American Whiskey Trail)
  • Kentucky Gentleman — Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Kentucky Vintage - Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Knob Creek— Clermont, Kentucky
  • Labrot & Graham — Woodford County, Kentucky
  • Maker's Mark — Loretto, Kentucky
  • Noah's Mill - Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Old Bardstown - Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Old Charter— Franklin County, Kentucky
  • Old Crow — Clermont, Kentucky
  • Old Forester — Louisville, Kentucky
  • Old Grand-Dad — Clermont, Kentucky
  • Old Kentucky - Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Old Pogue - Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Old Rip Van Winkle — Louisville, Kentucky
  • Pure Kentucky - Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Pernod Ricard (Austin Nichols division)
  • Ten High — Bardstown, Kentucky
  • Wild Turkey — Lawrenceburg, Kentucky (Open to the public as part of the American Whiskey Trail)
  • W.L. Weller — Franklin County, Kentucky
  • Woodford Reserve— Versailles, Kentucky (Open to the public as part of the American Whiskey Trail)

Other Bourbons

  • Club 400 — Landsdowne, Maryland
  • Ezra Brooks - St. Louis, Missouri
  • Hudson Baby - Tuthilltown Spirits Gardiner, New York
  • Rebel Yell — St. Louis, Missouri
  • O.J.C. — St. Louis, Missouri
  • Sam Cougar — Lawrenceburg, Indiana
  • Seagram — Indiana
  • Triple Eight — Nantucket, Massachusetts
  • Virginia Gentleman — Fredericksburg, Virginia

Bourbons from unknown distilleries

  • G & W — Various
  • Black Maple Hill
  • Bowman's
  • Woodstock














This entry is from Wikipedia, the leading user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors (see full disclaimer)

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