Bourbon is a type of American whiskey produced primarily from corn.  Only whiskey from the United States can be called Bourbon, though it is understood that it is predominantly a product of Kentucky.  Originating from a region called Old Bourbon – what is now known as Bourbon County, Kentucky – takes its name from the royal French family house of Bourbon.

The stipulations for a distillate being designated bourbon are as follows (according to the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits):

  • Can only be made in the United States
  • Must be made of a grain mixture with no less than 51% corn
  • Aged solely in charred, new American oak barrels
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof, or 80% alcohol
  • Cannot enter the barrel higher than 125 proof
  • Cannot be bottled higher than 160 proof
  • If labeled as straight bourbon, it must meet the above requirements, have been aged at least 2 years in barrel, and have no added flavors, colors or spirits.
  • If labeled as blended bourbon, it may have added flavor, color or spirits, yet still must be at least 51% straight bourbon.