Jim and I felt like it was time to get back to the basics of Bourbon. So we sat down to go over the basics for our new listeners that are also new to bourbon while sipping on four different expressions of the amber goodness. We thought what other bourbon to start with other than Evan Williams Bottled in Bond 100 proof that would help answer several of the basic bourbon questions.
Yes, Evan Williams states that they were the first distillery in Kentucky with DSP-KY 1, but first let’s tell you what bourbon has to be made, where it can be made, the things it can’t be and then we will get back to Evan Williams and they numbers.
What is Bourbon made of? First it has to be made with a mash bill of at least 51% corn or more. Then it has to be aged in a new, charred oak barrel. Now all of this has to happen on United States soil. Yes only in America which makes this our native spirit. You will noticed that I said nothing about Kentucky, that’s because while Kentucky is the leading producer of bourbon, as long as a distiller follows basic rules it can be made anywhere within the boundaries of the United States.
What about the age you ask? Well it can go into that new charred oak barrel for just one day and be considered bourbon as long as it is distilled at no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at no more than 125 proof. Then it must be bottled at no less than 80 proof. What about bourbons you see in other countries that are lower proof in the bottle. Well they have laws they have to follow just like us.
Other grains such as rye, wheat (my favorite if you didn’t already know) and malted barley are added for a more complex flavor. Other types of whiskeys might only use only one grain. This is another key factor in the distinct flavor characteristics of bourbon.
Another basic bourbon fact to know is for bourbon to be classified as Bottled In Bond, it must have been made during a single distilled season at one distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse for a period of at least four years and bottled at 100 proof (it can be more) as originally defined in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. Only American whiskeys can carry the label of “Bottled in Bond,” and any such bourbon label must identify the distillery from which it was distilled and bottled.
So what is straight bourbon whiskey? Straight Bourbon Whiskey requires barrels to age for a minimum of two years, and any straight bourbon aged less than four years must state the age on the label. Since I’m all over the Bourbon Road with this blog let’s get back to the DSP, it stands for Distilled Spirits Plant. They can get a little weird after that. While Evan Williams has DSP-KY 1, it is actually owned by Heaven Hill which is the Bernheim Facility in Louisville Ky. See what I mean.
Hopefully the episode and blog answered some questions of those new to bourbon or refreshed the memory of our listeners that have been on The Bourbon Road for a while. We know there are several more questions that we could have covered, that could have taken several episodes to accomplish. So here are a couple sites to help you in your research. Good Luck on your Bourbon Road.
So grab that glass, a bottle of your favorite bourbon, pour a nice healthy sample to enjoy and listen as Jim and I take you down The Bourbon Road for some basics of bourbon. Cheers
Mike (Big Chief)