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Bourbon and its History

Getting To Know It’s Origins & History of Bourbon 


Bourbon: Getting To Know Its Origins & History

The favorite drink of adventurers, artists, accountants, and members of other professions, bourbon is popularly recognized as America's spirit. This drink is loved by the rich and common working-class folk alike. But, what makes bourbon America’s spirit?

Here’s the brief history we’ve managed to gather.

From traditional to straight bourbon whiskey, most bourbon is made in Kentucky, right on American soil. But what is it, exactly?

Bourbon is a type of whiskey made from a mix of fermented grains (typically, corn, barley, and rye). To be called Bourbon, though, this whiskey has to meet a few legal requirements surrounding the mash bill, barreling, additives, and alcohol content. The mash must contain at least 51 percent corn; the spirit must be aged in newly charred white oak barrels, the mahogany-colored distilled spirit must also have a minimum of 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and cannot contain flavorings or any other additives.

What does it taste like?

Typically, bourbon boasts strong flavors of oak, caramel, marshmallow, and vanilla. The taste varies depending upon the type and its distillation process. For example, a higher amount of wheat grain used will result in a milder, more subdued flavor, whereas more rye indicates a more flavorful edge.

What do we know about its history?

When Scottish and Irish settlers arrived in America during the late eighteenth century, they brought their knowledge of distillation. These farmers, some of whom included Jacob Beam, Evan Williams, and Elijah Craig, - the creators of the now popular Bourbon brands incorporated corn into their distilling practices.

The spirit gained popularity after the American Civil War. The abundance of corn as a crop meant that bourbon could be produced and consumed on a large scale. This period also saw the emergence of steam power, which accelerated production, thus increasing supply, making it more readily available and accessible to enthusiasts.

From 1920 to 1933, Prohibition ruined many bourbon distilleries. Some of the majors came back online once the country realized its mistake and repealed the 18th Amendment.

After Prohibition ended in 1933, craft distilleries began to re-emerge with new enthusiasm, and bourbon sales began to soar. By 1964, bourbon was recognized by the United States Congress as America’s Native Spirit.

Today, it is one of the most widely exported American spirits and has found its popularity in the form of small-batch and single-barrel top-tier bourbons.

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