Wednesday July 24, 2024
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Evan Williams Bourbon ExperienceKentucky is known for a lot of things.  Thoroughbred horses.  Fried Chicken.  Abraham Lincoln.  Cassius Clay.  The Kentucky Derby.  And sweet, sweet bourbon.

Although the popular myth that bourbon has to be made in Kentucky is not true, it might as well be.  More than 95% of the world’s bourbon comes from Kentucky.  In fact, we have more barrels of bourbon aging here in the Commonwealth (nearly five million) than we have Kentucky residents!  Kentucky bourbon is so good for the same reason that our horses are so good:  the low-iron, high-calcium water that is filtered through our ubiquitous limestone.

So, if it is not being made in Kentucky, what makes bourbon bourbon?  According to US law (27 C.F.R. S5.22), bourbon has to meet several requirements.  It must be:

  • Produced in the United States
  • Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
  • Aged in new, charred oak barrels
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume)
  • Barreled for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% ABV)
  • Bottled at 80 proof or more (40% ABV)

Knowing a few random facts about bourbon is nice, but it does not tell the whole story.  The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, stretching across the central Bluegrass State, offers opportunities to tour the distilleries to learn about bourbon’s history, watch the production process, breath in a portion of the Angel’s Share and, if you’re over 21, even try out a few sips of the amber-colored treasure.

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