June 14, 2015 by Jack

National Bourbon Day is upon us and we would like to raise a glass in toast with all of you. Certain TV shows like Mad Men and Justified have spurred the Bourbon Industries comeback. As ratings go up, Bourbon is flying off the shelves. These shows, which cover many genres and spread across multiple decades, find one true American drink as the constant go to. But, do you really know Bourbon as well as you think?

The word Bourbon dates all the way back to the 1850's and it is argued by many as to its true origin. On the one hand you have Bourbon County nestled up North near Lexington Kentucky, which is of course the heartland of Bourbon. On the other, you have those that claim it's named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans, saying they would ship the barrels down the Ohio River to provide the ever-growing French population in Louisiana a cognac substitute. Either way, what we do know now is that there are six standards that all Bourbons must adhere to in order to qualify it by that name:

  1. It must be made in the United States. This rule is usually misconstrued as only being from Kentucky, which isn't the case, though most Bourbon does hail from the Bluegrass State.
  2. It must be aged in charred white oak barrels for at least two years. 
  3. It must be made from at least 51 percent corn.
  4. It must be distilled to no more than 160 proof, which is 80% alcohol, by volume.
  5. It must enter the barrel at below 125 proof.
  6. No artificial flavor or colorants may be added. This rule applies to Jack Daniel’s, which is labeled as a "Tennessee Whiskey" rather than bourbon due to their process of using maple wood chips for filtering before they bottle.

The distillers have six rules to follow whereas we have only one – enjoy drinking the delicious homegrown spirit responsibly. Cheers!