This is to get everyone on the same page about the well known, but often misunderstood title.  In it’s broadest definition, whiskey is a spirit distilled from fermented grain (wheat, rye, barley, and corn) mash and then aged in wooden barrels. With whiskey’s global presence there is a natural necessity in categorizing at least the BIG 5; Scotch, Irish, American, Japanese and Canadian whiskey. These five regions make up the bulk of all the whiskey produced and each have their own nuances.  We’ll be focusing on the most popular form of American whiskey, bourbon, which has its own production laws.

What makes a whiskey, bourbon? The law, making bourbon is technical and requires that the whiskey meet a rigid set of criteria. The Federal Standards of Identity for Bourbon say that for a whiskey to call itself bourbon the following bullets must be met:

 

  • Must be made in the United States.
  • Must contain 51 percent corn.
  • Must be aged in new oak charred barrels.
  • Must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof.
  • Must be bottled at no less than 80 proof.
  • Must not contain any added flavoring, coloring or other additives.