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What is Bourbon?
Bourbon is America’s Native Spirit, a distinction the savory brown liquor was officially given by a congressional resolution in 2008. Cool monikers aside, a liquor needs to hit six marks in order to be considered a bourbon:
- It needs to be a distinctive product of the United States, made entirely in the states, or its territories.
- The mash needs to be made of at least 51% corn.
- Aged in new, charred oak barrels, with no minimum aging requirements.
On the technical side of things:
- Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 proof, or 60% alcohol
- When filling barrels for aging, it must be no higher than 125 proof, or 62.5% alcohol
- It must be bottled at at least 80 proof, or 40% alcohol
What is the Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey?
If you’re weighing the choices between bourbon v. whiskey, there’s something you should know. Outside of certain specifications, there is not too much of a difference between bourbon and whiskey. In fact, every bourbon is a whiskey, but not every whiskey is a bourbon.
Angie Jackson, from Grand Traverse Distillery, put it best. Whiskey is like a last name. Scotch, bourbon, and rye are all members of the whiskey family, with slight variations in how they’re made, from the process, ingredients, and even location.
As mentioned above, bourbon needs to be a distinctive product of the United States. And contrary to popular belief, bourbon does not need to be made exclusively in Kentucky. So, much in the same way that Scotch is a specific style of whiskey from a designated origin, bourbon is also a whiskey with a sense of place.
Are There Different Types of Bourbon?
There are plenty of different types of bourbon, here’s a breakdown of just a few of the styles you can find in our collection:
Straight Bourbon – In addition to meeting all the other criteria for being a bourbon, Straight Bourbons are aged for a minimum of two years in new charred oak barrels.
High Rye Bourbon – While a bourbon’s mash needs to be made up of at least 51% corn, the rest is up to the distiller. A High Rye Bourbon uses 21% or more rye and tends to feature spicier highlights.
Wheated Bourbon – Like High Rye Bourbons, a Wheated Bourbon makes a significant portion, at least 21%, of the remaining mash bill wheat. They generally display a softer, gentler flavor profile.
Specialty Bourbon – Bourbon gets its color, and most of its flavor, from the barrel it’s aged in. Specialty Bourbon is finished in unique barrels like Carribean rum casks or used maple syrup barrels, giving the brown liquor distinct dimensions.
What Are Some Easy Bourbon Cocktails?
Bourbon cocktails don’t need to be hard to make. Our collection of recipes have plenty of easy-to-make drinks. Famed cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Hot Toddies don’t require tons of effort or a degree in mixology to make.
If you want to get a little adventurous, crush some ice and muddle some mint to make a Mint Julep. Or get together some fruit and make a Smash. No matter what you taste, there’s a bourbon cocktail for you. Find your new favorite drink in our collection of 75+ bourbon cocktails.