I was just flipping through an old press kit I received from the folks at Jim Beam and came across something I think might be the best delivery yet of the essentials of bourbon.
If you know your bourbon, then the following list will be old hat. But since there is so much misunderstanding about what makes a bourbon legit — Can it be distilled outside of Kentucky? Is Jack Daniels a Bourbon? What about those barrels? — I thought it might be worth reproducing here.
Again, this comes from the folks at Jim Beam, and the only reason I’m typing rather than linking to it is because I can’t seem to find it on their website. (Comments in parentheses are my own.)
American – It must be made in the United States (Outside of Kentucky is okay, though.)
Barrels – It must be aged in new, charred oak containers. (Note: Not American oak, just oak, meaning that Mongolian oak is allowable.)
Corn – It must be made with a minimum of 51 percent corn.
Distilled – It must be distilled at no more than 80% alc./vol. (Or, in other words, 160 proof.)
Entered – It must be entered into the barrel at no more than 62.5% alc./vol. (125 proof.)
Filled – It must be bottled at no less than 40% alc./vol. (80 proof.)
Genuine – It must have nothing added to it but water. (Hence why Jack is not a bourbon, since it is charcoal filtered.)
About the only basic Beam neglected to mention is that it must be aged for a minimum of two years, but I can’t figure out a key word for that beginning with H!