This September marks the sixth National Bourbon Heritage Month in history – a month long celebration honoring America’s Native Spirit. Despite bourbon being one of the oldest spirits still enjoyed by millions of people all across the world, many people are still unfamiliar with a few key facts about bourbon. For example, what is the difference between bourbon and whiskey? Does it need to be made in Kentucky to be considered bourbon?
I thought it might be interested to share a few bourbon facts – including a few about Jim Beam, the world’s number one bourbon in celebration of National Bourbon Heritage Month.
All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon.
By law, bourbon must be produced in the USA, made of a grain mix of at least 51% corn, distilled at less than 160 proof (80% ABV), aged for a period of time in new, charred white oak barrels and be free of any additives, with the exception of water to reduce proof where necessary. Simply put, bourbon is distilled grain and water.
Jim Beam mixes more than 51% corn (as required by the government) with barley, malt and rye. Then they add a little yeast.
Jim Beam uses the same, private-stock strain of yeast since Prohibition was repealed.
It was not until 1840 that the popular spirit being made in Old Bourbon County officially became known as Bourbon. Prior to this it was often labeled “Bourbon County Whiskey” or “Old Bourbon County Whiskey.” In 1964, an act of Congress declared bourbon as “America’s Native Spirit” and the country’s official distilled spirit.
The best way to enjoy bourbon? According to Jim Beam’s Seventh Generation Master Distiller, Fred Noe – “Any damn way you please.”