You’ve heard of it. You might’ve even tried it. But how much do you really know about bourbon? Look no further than the bottom of this webpage to get all the basics on this classic American spirit.
What is Bourbon?
Bourbon is a style of American whiskey that probably brings to mind images of the American South. From Bourbon Street in New Orleans or Bourbon County in Kentucky, the drink is all-american.
What’s the Difference between Bourbon and Whiskey?
To be considered bourbon, a whiskey must be made in the United States, made from a mash that’s mostly corn-based, and aged in charred oak barrels. Other whiskeys have less strict qualifications. They can be made from a variety of grains like barley, rye, or wheat, and they can be made anywhere in the world.
Does Bourbon have to be made in Kentucky?
The short answer is no. The folks at the Kentucky Tourism board will tell you that 95% of the world’s bourbon is made there. Kentucky might be the state most closely associated with bourbon (think of a cold mint julep at the grand stand of the Kentucky Derby), but it can be (and is) made in different distilleries across the nation.
Who Invented Bourbon?
Bourbon was first created around 1800, but other than that the details aren’t clear. In 1821, a company called Stout and Adams was the first to use the term in an advertisement. Some claim that a man named Elijah Craig was the first to age a corn whiskey in 1789. Most bourbon nuts will tell you that it was not invented by a single person, but developed over time by the settlers of the American frontier. That sounds much more romantic to us.
How Does Bourbon Taste?
It depends. It’s typically sweeter than most whiskeys thanks to corn being the main flavoring ingredient. Other flavors found in bourbon range from vanilla and honey to mint or berries. It all depends on the distillery and their product. One thing’s for sure, it’s strong. Bourbon, by rule, is bottled at no lower than 80 proof, or 40% alcohol.
How is Bourbon Served?
The die-hards will take their bourbon neat or straight (otherwise known as ‘straight from the bottle,’ or chilled, respectively). Beginners taking their first sips may be instructed to try bourbon on the rocks, or even add a few drops of water, to help ease into the strength of the drink. If that’s not your style, bourbon makes for a great cocktail too!
What Drinks are Made with Bourbon?
If you ask a bartender to make you something with bourbon, chances are you’ll get a Mint Julep, an Old Fashioned, or a Bourbon Sour. But bourbon can be used in just about anything, or easily substituted for whiskey in your favorite cocktail. Get creative!
Fans of bourbon will usually have a favorite on the tip of their tongue. What’s yours? Let us know in the comments section below!