National Bourbon Day (June 14th) is once again upon us. What is “National Bourbon Day?" you ask....
Over the last decade, popular TV shows like Justified, Mad Men, and Boardwalk Empire and have contributed to Bourbons’ resurgence. These shows, which span many years across multiple genres, rely on this uniquely American libation as their character's drink of choice. My question is, do you know Bourbon as well as you think?
The word Bourbon, as we know it, can be traced back to the11850's. Some say it’s origin come from Bourbon County, in northern Kentucky, near Lexington. This area has come to be known at the Bourbons' "Heartland." Another group claim Bourbon Street in New Orleans as Bourbons’ true namesake. As the story goes, due to the growing French population in Louisiana, “they” would ship barrels of the drink down the Ohio River to provide a substitute for cognac...this was due to New Orleans' ever-growing French population . Regardless of the word’s origins, for a beverage to be considered true Bourbon, it must adhere to six very specific standards:
- True Bourbon must be made in the United States. Some argue even further by stating Bourbon County, KY must be the place of manufacture. While technically not required, most Bourbon is indeed distilled in the Bluegrass State.
- It must be aged in charred oak barrels for at least two years; most commonly white oak.
- The mash must be made from at least 51% corn.
- It must be distilled to no more than 80% ABV, or 160 proof.
- It must enter the barrel below 125 proof.
- It must contain zero additives; no artificial flavor or color may be added. While Jack Daniels Whiskey must also adhere to this rule, it’s labeled as “Tennessee Whisky” due to their process of charcoal mellowing(filtering) prior to the barrel ageing process.
While distillers must be sure their products meet all six of these standards, you have only one thing to be concerned with...pouring yourself a glass and toasting along with us to this uniquely delicious American Spirit. Cheers!
Happy National Bourbon Day!