What is bourbon?
Bourbon is like whiskey’s `sweet spot’. First, because corn is a sweet grain. More the corn, sweeter the whiskey. Also, it’s tougher to make bourbon than whiskey. In fact, the government actually has standards for `Straight Bourbon Whiskey’.
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)
• No additives allowed (except water to reduce proof where necessary)
• Aged in new, charred white oak barrels
• Aged for a minimum of two years*
* To be called “Straight” bourbon
The main ingredients are distilled grain and water. More than 51% corn (as required by the government) is mixed with barley, malt and rye. To that is added a little yeast. In fact the same private stock strain of yeast that has been used since Prohibition was repealed in the US in the 1920s. To this is added pure, iron-free water. It is then fermented, double distilled and aged for a minimum of four years, double the time required by law.
The end result is the world’s finest bourbon
Jim Beam Bourbon was founded by Jacob Beam in the late 18th century. In 1788, he settled in the lush bluegrass hills of Kentucky. The land here was rich for farming and Jacob, like many of the settlers, experimented with the corn and grains that grew on his farm, blending them with the clear spring water that flowed nearby. This blend was run through a still, aged in barrels and eventually became bourbon, possibly named after Bourbon County, Kentucky. Jacob perfected the recipe and the world’s finest bourbon was born.
Bourbon is America’s contribution to the world of whiskey. To make it official, the U.S. Congress recognised bourbon as America’s Native Spirit in 1964, about 200 years after the very first bourbon went into a barrel. Bourbon history, much like the Beam family bourbon dynasty, mirrors U.S. history. Rebellion. Progress. Heroes. Facts. Legends. That is why it is known as America’s Native Spirit. Going beyond its iconic Jim Beam bourbon, the company has over the years crafted a whole family of bourbons. Some are aged longer to add a little more character and complexity. This is one of the whiskies that is filtered through charcoal for a more rounded and mature taste. Another offers a spicy rye flavor. And a few are made in small batches, the way bourbon used to be made. They can be light and delicate. Creamy and elegant. Smooth. Balanced. Chewy. Crisp.