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.