Tuesday, September 1, 2020 20 mins read

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 20 mins read

The month-long celebration of America’s Native Spirit is more delicious with craft bourbon from Spirit Hub

Some might say that a full month devoted to celebrating bourbon is overkill.

But you know what we say to that? 

Is a month long enough to celebrate all the delicious craft bourbon out there?

This is ‘America’s Native Spirit’ we’re talking about. And that’s not just some fun nickname it got from its classmates. No. That’s a firm designation that came from the U.S. Congress in 1964.

Some 43 years later, in 2007, the Senate unanimously passed a bill calling for September to be known as National Bourbon Heritage Month. 

Just like that, September became a month-long celebration recognizing bourbon’s role in the history of our great United States. We’ve come a long way since The Noble Experiment. 

That itself is worth celebrating.

But there’s an encyclodepdia’s worth of astonishing stories behind each of the independent distilleries across America. A month couldn’t possibly celebrate every one of the incredible humans behind those bourbon-making stills.  

Every bottle of craft bourbon tells the tale of generations. 

Huling Station Bourbon Whiskey tells the story of the Canale family. It’s named for the warehouse where Domenico Canale first started selling his whiskeys. Now, his great-great-grandchildren are making the same craft bourbon and spirits as he did at Tennessee’s Old Dominick Distillery.

Old Dominick Distillery’s Huling Station Bourbon

You can taste the family tradition inside every bottle of Old Dominick Distillery’s craft bourbon.

Pennsylvania Distilling Company’s Dewey’s No. 69 Small Batch Bourbon is distilled with pride, attention to detail, and hard work. All of which were lessons taught to the distillery’s owner, by his father, Dewey. 

Pennsylvania Distilling Company’s Dewey’s No. 69

Celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month with a sip of hard work, pride, and attention to detail with Dewey’s No. 69.

4 Spirits Bourbon Whiskey honors the men and women who serve in the armed forces for the United States. Oregon’s 4 Spirits Distillery gives the delicious brown craft spirit a righteous new purpose. 

Celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month with 4 Spirits Distillery

The craft bourbon from 4 Spirits Distillery salutes the soldiers of America’s armed forces.

Craft bourbon lets us celebrate Domenico, Dewey and countless other heroes’ stories. 

The question shouldn’t be why do we have a National Bourbon Heritage Month. The question should be, why did it take us until 2007 to establish it? 

How did bourbon whiskey come to be?

Even with bourbon’s national distinction, its history is anything but defined. 

We know that bourbon is a full-bred American product, but exactly where, when, and how the delicious deep brown tipple got started is certainly up for debate.

The most widely circulated piece of lore regarding bourbon’s origin concerns Elijah Craig, whose name you might recognize from a mainstream brand of bourbon. 

Mr. Craig was Baptist preacher, an educator, an entrepreneur and an integral part of the Fayette County community in Virginia, an area that would eventually become Kentucky.

He built and founded the county’s first fulling mill and its first paper mill. In Georgetown, where he lived, he founded the first lumber and gristmill. He even served as Fire Chief after helping establish the town’s first fire department. 

You might call him a Jack of All Trades. Some call him the inventor of bourbon

Here’s the truth.

Yes, Elijah Craig did, in fact, establish a distillery in an area that would eventually become Kentucky. And yes, he did start aging moonshine and corn whiskey in charred American Oak barrels. 

Craft Bourbon Aging In Barrels

Barrels of craft bourbon just waiting to be enjoyed during National Bourbon Heritage Month!

But calling him the “Father of Bourbon” is more of a charming moniker than verifiable truth. His products were no different than what was being made by a collection of small farmer-distillers west of the Alleghenies. 

It wasn’t even until the 1800s that the American spirit was starting to be called “bourbon.” In 1821, a newspaper in Paris, Kentucky called Western Civilization Newspaper ran the first known advertisement for the spirit. 

If you were wondering, a firm known as “Stout and Adams” had it for sale by the barrel. 

After decades of being called “Bourbon County Whiskey” or “Old Bourbon County Whiskey,” the extra words were dropped from the name, and in 1840,  America’s Native Spirit started being called “bourbon.”

Simple. Easy. Perfect.  

When it comes to the history of bourbon, the accepted theory is that it wasn’t invented. It was developed. 

The signature spirit of the states was forged over years and years by the hands of many all across America. 

At this point, the only thing that actually matters is that you can order craft bourbon and have it delivered straight to your door. 

So, what is bourbon whiskey exactly?

Everyone loves a clean definition. 

Thankfully the Federal Standard of Identity for Distilled Spirits clearly outlines what it takes to become America’s Native Spirit. 

For starters, there’s a location requirement. 

A lot of you may be thinking, “Bourbon. Made in Kentucky. Simple as that.”

But that’s actually not the case. 

When it comes to where bourbon is made, the right answer is here in the United States. That’s the only location requirement. It’s the same as Scotch being produced in Scotland, and champagne being made in the Champagne wine region in France. 

So, no. It doesn’t need to be made in Kentucky. 

Texas Bourbon, An Award-Winning Craft Bourbon

Bourbon made in Kentucky? How about Texas Bourbon expertly crafted by Fire Oak Distillery!

It could be distilled in Liberty Hills, Texas like Fire Oak Distillery’s Texas Bourbon or blended in Cooperstown, New York like Cooperstown Distillery’s Doubleday Baseball Bourbon.

Doubleday Baseball Bourbon by Cooperstown Distillery

Doubleday Baseball Bourbon is the craft bourbon that celebrates America’s pastime. 

The rest of the distinctions focus on how the spirit is made and its proofing. 

To be bourbon whiskey, the spirit’s mash must be made from a grain mix that is at least 51% corn. The mash must be distilled to a proof no higher than 160. After it’s done distilling, it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels, going into the barrels at no higher than 125 proof. Finally, it has to be bottled at 80 proof or higher. 

And just like that, you’ve got a bourbon whiskey

Ingredients That Find Their Way Into Craft Bourbon

We’re here to answer all your bourbon questions, starting with what is bourbon whiskey?

Simple enough, right?

What if we told you that there’s more than one type of bourbon whiskey? You’ve heard the title “Straight Bourbon Whiskey” before, but today you’re going to learn what that means. 

To be considered a straight bourbon whiskey, your bottle has to meet all the requirements from above, but it also has an aging requirement. The bourbon whiskey has to rest inside those charred oak barrels for at least two years. After that, it’s smooth sailing. 

An interesting caveat, if the bourbon is aged between two and four years, there must be a disclaimer about how long it’s been aged for. 

Take a look at Proof Artisan DistillersCrooked Furrow Bourbon Whiskey. The craft bourbon is aged for three years and proclaims that proudly right on the front of the bottle. 

Crooked Furrow Bourbon by Proof Artisan Distillers

Because it’s aged between two and four years, Crooked Furrow Bourbon has its age on its label. 

More than just bourbon whiskey

There are more subsets of bourbon whiskey than just straight bourbon whiskey.

Though it isn’t legally defined, there’s high-rye bourbon. That usually means that the rest of the mash bill is made up with a majority of rye.

Distilleries can impart more flavors into their craft bourbon whiskeys by double barrelling them. 

Bourbon’s traditional robust notes of warm vanilla and caramel are adopted from the new charred oak barrels. By continuing the aging process inside a previously used cask, independent distillers can put uniquely flavorful spins on America’s Native Spirit. 

Litchfield Distillery created an even more robust craft bourbon whiskey with their Double Barreled Bourbon. The ten-year-old bourbon rests in two different charred oak barrels over the decade. That means deeper colors and deeper flavors.

Litchfield Distillery’s Double Barreled Bourbon

Litchfield Distillery doubles the barrels, and doubles the robustness of their craft bourbon.

Freeland Spirits and Central Standard Craft Distillery both bring new dimensions of flavor to their craft bourbons by additional aging periods in wine casks. 

Freeland Bourbon Whiskey is a blend of 12-year-old bourbon and 3-year-old bourbon. After aging in the required barrels, the craft bourbon blend is moved to Pinot Noir barrels from Oregon’s Elk Grove winery where it picks up velvety notes of smoked pecan and baked berries. 

Celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month with Freeland Spirits

Oregon’s Freeland Spirits rests their blended craft bourbon in Pinot Noir barrels for unforgettable flavors. 

Central Standard’s Bourbon Rested in Cabernet Barrels says it all right in their name. After their craft bourbon is done in the charred oak barrels, it spends time in cabernet barrels from California where it takes on luscious hints of red wine. 

Craft Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Used Wine Barrels

Central Standard Craft Distillery finishes their craft bourbon in used wine barrels for nuanced layers. 

The craft experimentation doesn’t stop with wine barrels. 

A quick trip to Michigan’s Iron Fish Distillery will show you just how experimental you could be with barrelling. 

The independent distillery makes their Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels. Iron Fish’s high-rye bourbon spends time in whiskey barrels that were used to age maple syrup at Michigan’s Griner Family Sugar Bush. The resulting craft bourbon is teeming with a subtle maple sweetness. 

It’s time to start celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month 

Six simple rules make it a bourbon whiskey. 

But it’s the creativity and innovation behind the different types of bourbon whiskey that make it America’s Native Spirit. 

Recommended for you

Spirit Hub’s intro to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail & Craft Tour, the trip of every bourbon enthusiast’s dreams.
The Craft Bourbon Trail: A Delicious Adventure
Spirit Hub’s intro to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail & Craft Tour, the trip of every bourbon enthusiast’s dreams.