Booze, Bourbon, Enjoyment

All Things Bourbon

1 Comment 25 June 2010

Did you know these 23 Interesting facts about bourbon…

Booker Noe with Small Batch Collection

  • It is law that at least 51% of the grain used in making bourbon must be corn. The rest of the ingredients are commonly wheat, rye and malted barley.
  • It is law that straight bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years in new white oak barrels that have been charred.
  • It is law that nothing can be added to bottling to enhance flavor, add sweetness or alter the color.
  • “Ponying” a barrel is putting a few gallons of water into an empty, used barrel and rolling it around for a day or two. The results tend not to be very good.
  • You can thank Alexander Hamilton for bourbon. His excise tax on whiskey in western Pennsylvania pushed the Scottish and Irish distillers to move west into Kentucky where bourbon is now made.
  • Back in 1792 Bourbon County, KY was dependent on two exports, hemp and bourbon.
  • Bourbon got its name from being designated “old bourbon whiskey” when it was shipped down the Ohio River. This designation referred to the origin of the product. After about 1840, the name was shortened to just “bourbon.”
  • 3-4% of the bourbon in a barrel evaporates every year because of the aging process; so the longer the product is aged the less there is to sell. If a product is aged 7-9 years the third that has evaporated is called the “angel’s share.”
  • Bourbon County, established in 1785 was named after the French Royal family at the time and represents the Kentucky region called “Old Bourbon” which was what was also stamped on the original barrels.
  • Today Bourbon County, KY is a dry county with no running distilleries within its borders.
  • In 1964 U.S. Congress declared bourbon “America’s Native Spirit” and officially distilled spirit.
  • Bourbon began to be produced in the U.S. due to British blockades preventing importation of sugar and molasses needed to make rum. Because the revolutionary Army required spirit provisions, people began making bourbon (using rye as the predominant ingredient).
  • Bourbon’s primary ingredient (corn/maize) is native to North America.
  • Winston Churchill’s mother is credited with inventing the Manhattan cocktail. A Manhattan cocktail is made with bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
  • The term “brand name” originated among American distillers who branded their names and emblems on their barrels before shipment.
  • Because whisky was originally bartered for goods and services, distillers had very little cash. In order for the government to take taxes, they would buy the product for frontier troops rations, providing the distillers cash to pay taxes.
  • Corn distilled whiskey was more valuable than the grain itself and easier to transport down river and to eastern markets.
  • Most of the cargo carried on the first trains headed West was filled with bourbon for cowboys.
  • For more than 30 years. 1876-1910 federal taxes on domestically produced distilled spirits – mostly bourbon – accounted for half of all U.S. government revenue.
  • The federal personal income tax was adopted in part to replace revenue lost when the whiskey tax revenue dried up due to Prohibition.
  • Bourbon was one of the first products to be sold using mass marketing techniques tat set the foundation for modern advertising.
  • America’s first consumer protection legislation, The Pure Food and Drug Act, was largely an effort to protect drinkers from adulterated bourbon.
  • During Prohibition, bourbon was only legally available with a doctor’s prescription.


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