The History of Bourbon
Bourbon whiskey is an American classic with a rich and delicious history. It is the drink of choice for many people from all walks of life. The beverage dates back to the 18th century and has remained a staple ever since. It is unique to our country as one of the legal requirements for bourbon requires that production is in the USA. In this post, we'll define what bourbon is and dive into the history of this great American drink.
What is Bourbon?
Bourbon is a form of whiskey born and commonly made in Kentucky. The requirements to call it bourbon are as follows: produced in the United States, made from a grain mixture of at least 51% corn, aged in charred oak barrels, distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume), entered into the container for aging at no more than 125 proof, bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof. One of the more notable characteristics is the distillation of bourbon is 51% corn as well as the production of the beverage in the USA, is what separates bourbon from other kinds of whiskey. Bourbon is also required to be all-natural and without additives. Straight bourbon has rules regarding age and must be in the barrels for at least two years. All of these factors play a role in making a delicious and time-tested American spirit.
Whiskey became more popular in the United States after the American Revolution due to the shaky trade between the US and Great Britain. This was when our country began producing and consuming more whiskey as opposed to traditional rum. The origins of bourbon are loose and debated. The name almost certainly comes from the Bourbon French Dynasty, and although they produced bourbon since the late 1700s, it wasn't officially “bourbon" until about 1840.
Before that, this popular beverage was commonly referred to as "Old Bourbon County Whiskey" referring to the location that it came from in Kentucky. Bourbon County and Bourbon Street in New Orleans are named after the French family due to the support of the French during the Revolution. By the 19th century, the state of Kentucky was distilling whiskey with a corn base. Bourbon was born.
Bourbon survived the Civil War, as Kentucky remained a neutral state throughout, although they later petitioned the Union for assistance when the Confederacy attempted to claim Kentucky. During this time, 13 battles fought between the North and South occurred on the same Kentucky soil bourbon had made its mark. The industry survived and continued to grow until the Prohibition of alcohol in the United States from 1920-1933. Many distilleries never opened back up after Prohibition, but a revival still took place in the form of survivors and new companies.
Today, the American spirit is an internationally recognized beverage with a history that dates back to near the founding of the United States of America. One thing is for sure; Kentucky Bourbon is bourbon in its purest form of origin. Kentucky crafts 95% of the world's bourbon supply. The reason being is that Kentucky has some exceptional geographic conditions for growing bourbon's main ingredient, corn. The state has hot summers and mild winters, as well as an abundance of limestone that neutralizes the pH of the soil for agriculture.
We hope you learned a little more about an iconic American spirit. The history of bourbon continues to be written as the legacy of this drink and American distilleries. This weekend, you can pay homage to the history of our country by enjoying a glass of bourbon.
Please enjoy responsibly.
GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems.