Bourbon's legal definition varies somewhat from country to country, but many trade agreements require the name bourbon to be reserved for products made in the United States. The U.S. regulations for labeling and advertising bourbon apply only to products made for consumption within the United States; they do not apply to distilled spirits made for export. Canadian law requires products labeled bourbon to be made in the United States and to also conform to the requirements that apply within the United States. But in countries other than the United States and Canada, products labeled bourbon may not adhere to the same standards. European Union regulations require bourbon-labeled products to be made in the United States, but do not require them to conform to all of the requirements that apply within the United State.
Various Brands of Bourbon like Jim Beam, IW Harper, Old Grand Dad, Wild Turkey, and etc. are available in our Bourbon Whiskey collection. It may be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the American South in general, and Kentucky in particular.
The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be: made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn; aged in new, charred-oak barrels; distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume); entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume) and be bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume).
Bourbon has no minimum specified duration for its aging period. Products aged for as little as three months are sold as bourbon.
Bourbon that meets the above requirements, has been aged for a minimum of two years, and does not have added coloring, flavoring, or other spirits may (but is not required to) be called straight bourbon. Bourbon that is labeled as straight that has been aged under four years must be labeled with the duration of its aging.
Bourbon that has an age stated on its label must be labeled with the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle (not counting the age of any added neutral grain spirits in a bourbon that is labeled as blended, as neutral-grain spirits are not considered whiskey under the regulations and are not required to be aged at all).
Bourbon that is labeled blended or as ‘a blend’ may contain added coloring, flavoring, and other spirits such as un-aged neutral grain spirits; but at least 51% of the product must be straight bourbon.
The typical grain mixture for bourbon, known as the mash bill, is 70% corn—with the remainder being wheat, rye, and/or malted barley. A mash bill that contains wheat instead of rye produces what is known as a wheated bourbon. The grain is ground and mixed with water. Usually, though not always, mash from a previous distillation is added to ensure a consistent pH across batches—and a mash produced in that manner is referred to as a sour mash. Finally, yeast is added and the mash is fermented. The fermented mash, referred to as the wash, is then distilled to (typically) between 65% and 80% alcohol. Distillation was historically performed using an alembic or pot still, although in modern production, the use of a continuous still is much more common.
The resulting clear spirit is placed in charred-oak barrels for aging, during which it gains color and flavor from the caramelized sugars in the charred wood. Changes to the spirit also occur due to evaporation and chemical processes such as oxidation. Bourbons gain more color and flavor the longer they mature. Maturity, not a particular age, is the goal. Bourbon can age too long and become woody and unbalanced.
After maturing, bourbon is withdrawn from the barrel, usually diluted with water, and bottled to at least 80 US proof (40% abv). Most bourbon whiskey is sold at 80 US proof. Other common proofs are 86, 90, 94, 100, and 107, and whiskeys of up to 151 proof have been sold. Some higher-proof bottlings are marketed as "barrel proof", meaning that they have not been diluted or have been only lightly diluted after removal from the barrels.
Bourbon whiskey may be sold at less than 80 proof but must be labeled as "diluted bourbon".