Here you’ll learn what bourbon is, bourbon terms, trivia, a list of bourbon distilleries, and bourbon resources. So enjoy!
I. Bourbon: What is It?
III. Bourbon Words & Terms
To be a bourbon, distillers must
- Make it in the U.S.
- Distill it from a mash of at least 51% corn.
- Make it no higher than 160 proof.
- Place it in charred new oak barrels at 125 proof.
- Add no flavorings, colorings or other additives.
- Bottle it at 80 proof or higher.
The Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 guarantees that any distilled spirit labeled “Bottled-in-Bond” meets specific criteria.
The same distiller, at the same distillery, must make it during the same distilling season. The same distiller must age it for at least four years, and not adulterate it. However, the distiller may add pure water to adjust the proof. Thus the U.S. federal government guarantees the authenticity of the product.
- By act of Congress, bourbon is the official distilled spirit of the U.S.1
- Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister, may have been the first made tbourbon. He apparently distilled it in 1789 in Bourbon County, Kentucky.2
- Distillers continue making the beverage in Bourbon County. However, it is a dry (local prohibition) county.3
- Almost one-half the retail price of a typical bottle of distilled spirits goes to taxes.4
- No distilled spirit has any sodium, gluten, cholesterol, carbohydrates, or fats of any kind.5
- The actual alcohol content of a standard can of beer, glass of dinner wine, or distilled spirit is virtually identical. A breathalyzer can’t tell them apart.6
III. Bourbon Words & Terms
ABV is proportion of alcohol in a beverage by volume.
ABW is proportion of alcohol in a beverage by weight.
Angel’s share is the whiskey lost by evaporation during aging.
Barrel. A U.S. barrel is holds 31.5 gallons.
Barrel proof. The producer doesn’t dilute the spirit after removing it from the cask or barrel. As a result, it has a higher proof than the traditional spirit.
Bung is the stopper producers use to seal a barrel.
Brand name means proprietary name. It comes from the practice among U.S. distillers of branding their names on their kegs before shipping them.
Cask strength is the same as barrel proof.
Charred barrels. Coopers use flames to burn or char the interiors of barrels.
Column still. Distillers pump the mash continuously into a column. Steam rises and evaporates the alcohol. Distillers can continue the process repeatedly. Other names are beer still, continuous still, and Coffey still. See pot still.
Congeners are substances in alcohol. They occur in higher quantities in darker spirits. They add flavors. Unfortunately, they can make a hangover worse. So that’s another a good reason not to over-indulge.
Cooker. See mash tub.
DISCUS is the abbreviation for Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. It’s a trade group of leading distillers.
Distillation is the process distillers use to separate alcohol from water. Alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water. Therefore, it evaporates first and then distillers condense it back into liquid.
Distiller’s beer. The fermented mash that producers transferred from the fermenter to the still for distillation.
Fermentation is the process during which yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Finish is the lingering aftertaste that results after an alcohol beverage is swallowed.
Fermenter is a container in which distillers add yeast to the mash to begin fermentation.
Jigger is a container for measuring liquids when making mixed drinks.
Juleps are traditionally made from bourbon, sugar, and fresh mint leaves on crushed ice. However, there are many julep recipes.
Mash. The mixture of cooked grains and water before distillers add yeast is to start fermentation.
Mashbill is the grain recipe used to make whiskey.
Mash tub or cooker. A large vessel in which distillers mix grains with water and cooked. They then transfer the resulting “mash” to a fermenter.
Neat is a spirit with no ice, mixers, or chilling. In other words, it’s simply right out of the bottle.
Nose is the aroma of a whiskey.
On the rocks refers to serving a beverage poured over ice cubes.
Pot still. With a pot still, producers distill alcohol one batch at a time in a pot or container. See column still.
“Where’s the proof?”
Proof is a measure of alcoholic level in a beverage in the U.S. It’s twice the alcohol by volume. For example, a 40% ABV would be 80 proof.
Rack house or warehouse is the building in which producers age whiskey.
September is National Bourbon Heritage Month in the U.S. by act of Congress.
Ricks are the wooden structures on which producers place barrels of whiskey for aging.
Single barrel whiskey is bottled from only one barrel. That is, it’s straight or unblended.
Small batch whiskey is blended from select barrels of mature whiskey. Producers do this to achieve a specific style.
Straight is unblended.
Straight up or up is a chilled spirit or mixed drink consumed without ice.
“Where’s the thief?”
Thief. A pipette distillers use to remove a sample from a barrel. Also called a barrel thief, whiskey thief, or wine thief.
Wheated bourbon. Bourbon made from a mashbill that contains wheat.
Yeast are single cell plants that convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
IV. Popular Bourbon Resources
Hulsman, L. and Bowers, D. Bourbon Desserts. Lexington: U Press of Kentucky, 2014.
National Bourbon Day in the U.S. is June 14.
Peachee, C. The Birth of Bourbon. A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries. Lexington: U Press of KY, 2015.
Perrine, J. and Reigler, S. The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book. Lexington: U Press of KY, 2009.
Reigler, S. Kentucky Bourbon Country. The Essential Travel Guide. Lexington: U Press of KY, 2016.
Schmid, A. The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook. Lexington: U Press of KY, 2010.
V. Bourbon Distilleries
Distillers typically invite visitors to tour their facilities. Kentucky even has two distillery trails. There’s the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Also the Kentucky Bourbon Trail – Craft Tour.
Kentucky Bourbon Distillers
Other Kentucky Locations
Boone County, Boone County. (That’s the name of the town.)
Boundary Oak, Radcliff.
Buffalo Trace, Frankfort.
Hartfield & Co., Paris (that’s Paris, KY).
Kentucky Artisan, Crestwood.
Limestone Branch, Lebanon (again, that’s KY)
Maker’s Mark, Loretto.
M.B. Roland, Pembroke.
New Riff, Newport.
Old Pogue, Marysville.
Wild Turkey, Lawrenceburg.
Wilderness Trail, Danville
Woodford Reserve, Versailles.
Other South Carolina Locations
Dark Corner, Greenville.
Lucky Duck, Yemassee.
Six and Twenty, Piedmont.
Colorado Gold, Cedaredge.
Distillery 291, Colorado Springs.
Feisty Spirits, Fort Collins.
Peach Street, Palisade.
Storm King, Montrose.
Syntax Spirits, Greeley.
Whistling Hare, Westminster.
Woody Creek, Basalt.
A. Smith Bowman, Fredericksburg.
Copper Fox, Williamsburg.
Falls Church, Falls Church.
Ironclad, Newport News.
Blaum Bros, Galena.
Few Spirits, Evanston.
Quincy Street, Riverside.
Whiskey Acres, DeKalb.
H. Clark, Thompson’s Station.
Green Brier, Nashville.
Old Dominick, Memphis.
Old Forge, Pigeon Forge.
Short Mountain, Woodbury.
Bear Wallow, Nashville, IN.
Indiana Whiskey, South Bend.
Midwest Grain Products Ingredients (MGP), Lawrenceburg.
Trey Herring’s Craft Spirits, Goldsboro.
Mystic Farm, Durham.
San Diego, Spring Valley.
Sonoma Brothers, Windsor.
Stillwater Spirits, Petaluma.
Thirteenth Colony, Americus.
Coulter & Payne, Union.
Ozark, Osage Beach.
Big Escambia Spirits, Atmore, AL.
Eastside, Portland, OR.
8 Feathers, Boise, ID.
Garrison Brothers, Hye, TX
I.W. Harper, Tullahoma, TN
Kings County, Brooklyn, NY
Middle West Spirits, Columbus, OH
St. Augustine, St. Augustine, FL
In addition, over 75 distillers have announced plans to produce bourbon.
Didn’t see your favorite bourbon distillery? Suggest it at hansondj[at sign]potsdam.edu/ Thanks!
4 Alcohol Taxes.
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