On June 14 the Official Spirit of America is recognized. It is National Bourbon Day.
- To legally be a considered Bourbon, it must be 51 percent corn, stored in new (not aged) charred-oak barrels and distilled no more than 160 proof and barreled at 125 proof.
- This particular whiskey derives its name from the Kentucky county which was established in 1785 and was a large producer of corn. The corn, once distilled, would be put in barrels and stamped “Old Bourbon” and shipped down the Ohio River.
- In 1964, a Congressional Resolution designated Bourbon as America’s native spirit. Since then, there is nowhere else in the world that can make a whiskey and call it Bourbon.
- Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon, crafting 95 percent of the world’s supply.
- Kentucky has 68 distilleries as of 2018 – up 250% in the last decade. That’s 32 counties with at least one distillery – we only had 8 in 2009.
- Bourbon is an $8.6 billion signature industry in Kentucky, generating 20,100 jobs with an annual payroll of $1 billion.
- Kentucky’s iconic Bourbon distilleries filled a whopping 1.7 million barrels of amber nectar last year (2017), the highest it’s been since 1972.
- With 4.3 million people, there are now almost two barrels for every person living in Kentucky.
- Bourbon is named after the House of Bourbon, a powerful French dynasty.
- By law, bourbon barrels can only be used once.
- During Prohibition, bourbon was legally allowed if you had a doctor’s note.
- Winston Churchill’s mother (supposedly) invented the Manhattan. Lady Randolph Churchill, the American-born mother to former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is credited as having invented the Manhattan cocktail, a mix of bourbon or rye, sweet vermouth and bitters.
- Many popular Bourbon brands actually have Japanese owners. The world’s No. 1 best seller, Jim Beam, was purchased by Suntory in 2014, adding to a portfolio that also includes Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s. And Kirin, another Japanese liquor company, has owned Four Roses since 2001.
- Bourbon is responsible for drinking straws. Until the late 1880s, cocktails were sipped through a hollow stalk of ryegrass, often leaving an unpleasant residue as it deteriorated. One fateful day, however, Washington, DC, resident Marvin Stone was sucking down his freshly made Mint Julep and contending with the faulty piece of grass when it occurred to him that even paper would do a better job. He began by tightly wrapping several strips of paper around a pencil, then he removed the pencil and glued the papers into a sturdy cylindrical shape. Stone’s ingenious tool immediately caught on with drinkers around the country, and in 1888, the inventor patented a version made of paraffin-coated manila.
- Bourbon must be made from at least 51% corn. Why? Because it’s the law. In a 1908 court case, Justice Robb of the United States Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia wrote “it is well understood that Bourbon whiskey is a Kentucky product made principally out of corn, with sufficient rye and barley malt added to distinguish it from straight corn whiskey.” Source.
- President William Howard Taft refined the definition on December 27, 1909, deciding that bourbon is “made from mash that consists of at least 51% corn (maize),” “distilled to no more than 80% alcohol by volume, and must then be aged in new charred-oak containers.” Source.