Sunday, May 6, 2007

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

(Some Of My Collection)

I realized I never did a Bourbon Basics post much like the Coffee one I did last night. So, to rectify that, here is such thread!

Bourbon is an American form of whiskey made from (pursuant to U.S. law) 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 to 80–100 proof and bottled. Some jurisdictions, mostly in the United States, do not allow alcoholic beverages with over 40% alcohol content to be sold. However, the recent trend among distillers has been to return to higher proofs, and even “cask strength” bottlings.

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.

The name is taken from Bourbon County, Kentucky.

Some of the finer 100 proof Bourbon Whiskeys are designated "Bottled in Bond":

Bottled in Bond
refers to American-made whiskey that has been aged and bottled according to a set of legal stipulations contained in the United States government's Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (Title 27, Section 5), as originally laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.

To be labeled as "Bottled-in-Bond" or "Bonded," the whiskey must be straight whiskey that is the product of one distillation season and one distiller at one distillery. It must have been stored (i.e., aged) in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 100 (U.S.) proof (50% alcohol by volume). The bottled product's label must identify the distillery (by DSP number) where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled.

The Bottled-in-Bond Act made the United States government the guarantor of the whiskey's authenticity. Although no assurance of quality, "bottled-in-bond" whiskey came to be regarded as "the good stuff."

The primary purpose of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 was to guarantee that the product the consumer was buying was really whiskey, according to a standardized definition. To ensure compliance, Treasury agents were assigned to control access to so-called bonded warehouses at the distilleries.

Prior to the Act's passage, much of the whiskey sold as "straight whiskey" was anything but. So much of it was adulterated in the name of greed - flavored and colored with iodine, tobacco, and other substances - that a group of reputable whiskey distillers, led by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. (creator of Old Taylor bourbon), joined with then Secretary of the Treasury John G. Carlisle to fight for the Bottled-in-Bond Act.

To this day, some consumers consider the term as an endorsement of quality, but many producers consider it archaic and do not use it, even on products that qualify for the designation. However, since bottled-in-bond whiskey must be the product of one distillation season, one distillery and one distiller, whereas ordinary straight whiskey may be a product of the mingling of straight whiskeys of differing ages and producers, it can be regarded as a better indication of the distiller's skill.

The types of American whiskey typically labeled as "Bonds" are Bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, and corn whiskey.

And there are your basics.


No comments: