Bourbon and American whiskey's roots go back to the late 1700s, when westbound British, Irish and Scottish settlers started making whiskey in Kentucky. In 1964, the U.S. Congress established federal regulations for producing the spirit. All American whiskeys are distilled from a fermented mash (mixture) of cereal grain and water without any coloring or flavoring additives. Unlike scotch or cognac, American whiskey must by law be aged in new, charred oak barrels and no more than 160-proof (80% alcohol by volume). In order to be classified as "straight" whiskey, it must be aged for at least two years and unblended. American whiskey's entail: rye, rye malt, malt, wheat, bourbon, corn and Tennessee whiskey, which is a special classification of Bourbon. Bourbon must be made from a mash that is at least 51% corn. The rest of the mash is made up of rye, wheat and/or malted barley. 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's aged in for at least two years while the alcohol by volume climbs to a minimum of 40% (80-proof) before bottling.
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.”
HOW TO DRINK BOURBON & AMERICAN WHISKEY:
Purists drink bourbon straight, but it’s often served in a rocks glass with a few ice cubes and a splash of water, in what industry legend and Jim Beam’s grandson Booker Noe called “Kentucky iced tea.” Like most whiskies, bourbon works well with club soda and ginger ale. The spirit is also the base for many classic American cocktails, including the Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, Presbyterian, Horse’s Neck, Ward Eight and Brown Derby.
Bourbon / American Whiskey Stories
6 Delicious Apple Cocktails to Kick Off Fall
Autumn is coming!
4 Frozen Bourbon Cocktails for the Last (Official) Days of Summer
Because bourbon and ice are meant for each other.
How to Celebrate National Whiskey Sour Day in Style
Here’s what you need to know about the Whiskey Sour by August 25.
11 Essential Cocktails for Your September Parties
What to make at home for friends this month.
This Is How to Sweet-Tea Your Old Fashioned Cocktail
Get a little South in your drink.
Hooters Releases Its Own Cinnamon Whiskey
Plus 7 other branded spirits!
How Sophia Kim Won the 2019 Manhattan Experience
Third time’s the charm for the Richmond bartender.
‘Star Trek’ Captain Picard Made Wine and Now You Can Actually Drink It
To boldly pour what no trekkie has poured before.
11 Essential Cocktails for Your August Parties
Get your summer on. While it’s still around.
11 Frozen Cocktails to Try Right Now. With Recipes!
The drinks for good brain freeze.
The Manhattan Experience Semifinalists Won the Ultimate Whiskey Lover’s Trip to Kentucky
These 40 bartenders got an unforgettable experience in the heart of bourbon country.
Boozy Salsa From Aldi Is What Your Summer Is Missing
Choose from three spiked flavors.
11 New Takes on the Old Fashioned
Find them in bars across the USA.
An Abridged History of Blenders in Bars
Whir. Buzz. Yes.
Who’s Going to the 2019 Bartender of the Year Finals?
Meet the winners of the eight Heaven Hill Bartender of the Year regional competitions.
7 Great Frozen Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now
Go forth and drink frozen.
11 Delicious Cocktails to Set Off Your Fourth of July
Get patriotic, people.
One Missouri Company Puts the Whiskey Before the Distillery. And It’s Really Paying Off.
Inside the great booze made by J. Rieger.
Are You Mixing Your Favorite Spirit with the Wrong Ginger?
Mix your favorite spirit with a better class of mixer.
Another Bourbon Warehouse Collapses Spilling 4,000 Barrels
Worst news ever.
The Motto at WhistlePig After the Death of Its Iconic Master Distiller: What Would Dave Do?
Reeling from the loss of a legend.
11 Essential Cocktails for Your June Parties
Summer entertaining solutions.
Ocean-Aged Bourbon Started as an Experiment. It’s Becoming an Industry.
Discover how aging barrels at sea created an incredible new category of bourbon.
What the #$@! Do I Do with This? Peach Schnapps. What It Is and How to Use It.