Bourbon & American Whiskey

Bourbon & American Whiskey Bourbon's roots go back to the late 1700s, when westbound British, Irish and Scottish settlers started making whiskey in Kentucky. In 1964, the US Congress established federal regulations for producing the spirit. Bourbon must be made from a mash (the base mixture of grain and water) that is at least 51 percent corn. The rest of the mash is made up of rye, wheat and/or malted barley. Unlike Scotch or cognac, bourbon must by law be aged in new, charred oak barrels. While most bourbon today is still made in Kentucky, it can legally be made anywhere in the United States. The spirit’s beautiful amber color comes from the wood that it is aged in for at least two years; distillers can’t add any color to the finished product. Bourbon also has to be bottled at a minimum of 80-proof (40 percent alcohol by volume). Over the last ten years, bourbon has seen a rapid rise in popularity around the world. Demand has grown so much that distillers are having trouble keeping up. What’s driving sales are premium, small-batch bourbons, including Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, Russell’s Reserve and Michter’s. Whether you’re in Louisville, New York or even Melbourne, Australia, you won’t have to look hard to find a bottle of good bourbon. Here’s a shot of spelling with your glass of bourbon: Whisky from Scotland, Canada and Japan is spelled without an “e.” Whiskey from Ireland and the United States is usually spelled with an “e.”