All Bourbon is Whiskey, But Not All Whiskey is Bourbon
It’s confusing but MB Roland Distillery wants to set the record straight
What is Whiskey?
Whiskey is distilled from a fermented blend of grains, commonly corn, barley, rye, and wheat, which the distiller calls the mash bill, and then aged in wooden barrels. Whiskey is distilled all over the world and there are many popular styles, including Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, and American Whiskey. (Notice the different spelling of whisky. In Scotland, it’s spelled without the “e”)
What Makes it a Bourbon?
Bourbon is strictly American, and it’s strict in its rules:
- Must be made in the United States
- Must be at least 51% corn
- Must be aged in a NEW oak-charred barrel
- Must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof or less
- Must be bottled at no less than 80 proof
- Must not contain any added flavoring, coloring or other additives
This isn’t just common practice… it’s actually bourbon law! The standard was set with the Bottle in Bond Act of 1897.
- Some people believe that bourbon has to come from Kentucky (false), although most of the bourbons on the market today are made in Kentucky.
- Kentucky makes good bourbon because of the changing climate during the year. With the changing temperature, the bourbon will soak into and suck out of the sides of the charred barrel, extracting important compounds. Kentucky also has a good water source with miles of limestone underground.
- Bourbon has to age in a charred barrel for 4 years (false). Bourbon can be aged for as little as 3 months. BUT to be called “Straight Bourbon” it must be aged in a new oak barrel for at least two years.
Speaking of “charred barrels,” there are different grades of “char” for oak barrels. The most popular being #4 which is what MB Roland uses for their barrels.
If you want to know more about our bourbon and whiskey, set a date to come out and join one of our popular tours. You can see the actual making of our products and ask questions of our knowledgeable tour guides. And the best part of the tour is that it ends with your chance to taste what you’ve learned about. For more information contact us on our website or call (270) 640-7744.