On August 2, 2007, the US Senate declared that September 2007 was to be “National Bourbon Heritage Month.” The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, passed by unanimous consent; as if we ever needed a legal justification to celebrate alcohol. As the chosen drink of president and commoner alike, born in the land of the free and the home of the brave, there is no spirit more American than bourbon. So if you’re feeling at all patriotic, this month is for you to celebrate family heritage, tradition, deep-rooted legacy and the ‘American Native Spirit’ that bourbon embodies.
For a whiskey to be properly labelled as a bourbon, some ‘purists’ will tell you it has to come from Kentucky; others will say it simply must be American. The truth is that as long as it’s from America and doesn’t taste like toilet water, it’s acceptable. Yes, 95% comes from Kentucky, but it can come from any state and still be bourbon. Despite this, bourbon still comes with a lot of ‘musts’
- Bourbon must be created from a mash (a mixture of fermentable grain) that is at least 51% corn. The other 49% is usually a mixture of barley, rye, or wheat.
- It must be aged in new American oak barrels (whereas many types of whisky, like Scotch whisky, are often aged in barrels that have previously held wine, port, other whiskies etc).
- Bourbon must go into the barrel at no more than 125 proof and it cannot enter the bottle at anything less than 80 proof.
- Finally, for it to be bourbon, nothing but water can be added, and that is only at the end to proof the whiskey down to what the distiller is seeking (in comparison to Scotch, where caramel colouring is a common additive).
Some bourbons are aged for years while others are aged for only a few months (there is no age requirement for bourbon as long as it has spent at least day in the barrel). Some are perfect for mixing into mint juleps, Manhattans or sours; others demand to be enjoyed on their own.
Explore our range of Bourbon’s this month and raise a toast to one of Kentucky’s finest exports (after the fried chicken of course)