Apple Pie. Denim. Bourbon. They're pretty much interchangeable with Red, White and Blue. Though, despite our best efforts, it hasn't caught on. But there's no doubt bourbon is the essential American liquor. A variety of whiskey, it takes its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky. Production in Kentucky isn't required to officially qualify as a bourbon. It just must be distilled within the United States. But…95% of it is made there all the same.
Letter of the Law:
Chances are slim you're thinking about some fine, American law making while sipping bourbon. But all types of bourbon are more than a little regulated. In 1964 the US Congress recognized bourbon as a “distinctive product of the United States" and put parameters in place to uphold its unique qualities. Per the Federal Standards of Identity for Bourbon, the whiskey must be made with a mash of no less than 51% corn grain along with rye, wheat and/or malted barley. It must be distilled to no less than 80% ABV and casked at 62.5% ABV or less then matured in new, charred, white-oak barrels for a minimum of two years. And no, those details don't make for the best party banter. But, hey, at least now you know them.
How to Drink It:
To truly experience the slight sweetness and character that has made bourbon a worldwide sensation in recent years, drink bourbon neat, on the rocks or with a splash of water or soda water. You can also enjoy it as the foundation of many classic cocktails like the Mint Julep, Old Fashioned and Ward Eight.