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Does Bourbon Have To Be Made in Kentucky? (2024 Updated)

Does Bourbon Have To Be Made in Kentucky

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Bourbon has a long and storied history, dating back to the early days of the American colonies. Since then, it has been an essential part of American culture, enjoyed by Presidents and everyday citizens alike.

But does bourbon have to be made in Kentucky? Let’s find out.

Should All Bourbon Be Made In Kentucky?

Cream of Kentucky

Not necessarily. There is no denying that Kentucky is the spiritual home of bourbon. The state’s climate and water supply are perfectly suited for distilling, and its long tradition of craftsmanship is unrivaled.

However, many other states also produce high-quality bourbon. Indiana, for example, has a similar climate to Kentucky and is home to several respected distilleries. Tennessee also has a strong bourbon tradition, with some of the most famous brands produced there.

So while Kentucky may be the undisputed king of bourbon, many other states also have a claim to the title. In the end, it’s up to the drinker to decide which bourbon they prefer.

Whether it’s from Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, or any other state, the important thing is that it’s delicious.

What Makes A Whiskey Bourbon? 

There are a few things that make a whiskey bourbon. First, it must be made in the United States. 

Second, it must be made from a grain mixture of at least 51% corn. 

Third, it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. Fourth, it must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and bottled at no less than 80 proof. 

Finally, it must not contain any additives. These requirements result in a spirit that is smooth, rich, and full of flavor. Learn how to make bourbon here

Some Bourbons Made Outside Kentucky 

Some Bourbons Made Outside Kentucky 

Remus Repeal Reserve Straight Bourbon

Remus Repeal Reserve is a 2018 limited release, straight bourbon whiskey from MGP of Indiana. The whiskey is aged in new, charred oak barrels and bottled at 47% ABV.  

Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon

Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Texas

Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon is made in Texas. The company produces small-batch bourbons made from local heirloom grains and aged in oak barrels for two years. 

The barrels are then stored in a temperature-controlled warehouse. This aging process gives the bourbon its unique flavor profile, including notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak.

Read: King of Kentucky Bourbon Guide

Oppidan Four Grain Straight (Batch 001)

Oppidan Four Grain Straight with glass on table

Batch 001 of Oppidan Four Grain Straight is made in the heart of America – straight from the good ol’ cornfields of Indiana. This golden spirit is distilled using a unique blend of four different grains, including corn, rye, wheat, and malt. The result is a smooth, well-rounded whiskey with hints of sweetness and spice.

Read:

5 States Where It Can Be Made 

5 States Where It Can Be Made 

1. Texas

Texas makes several bourbons. Some of the more well-known Texas whiskey brands include TX Blended Whiskey, Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky, and Yellow Rose Distilling Co.’s Outlaw Bourbon. 

TX Blended Whiskey is a blend of corn, rye, and barley aged in oak barrels. The Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky is made with blue corn sourced from local farms in Texas. The Yellow Rose Distilling Co.’s Outlaw Bourbon is made with rye, wheat, and corn. 

These bourbons are produced in small batches and are limited in availability. As a result, they are all highly sought after by bourbon aficionados.

2. New York

New York

New York bourbons have a mash of corn, rye, and barley like many bourbons. The climate in New York is perfect for aging bourbon, and the state’s regulations stipulate that the spirit must be aged for a minimum of two years in new, charred oak barrels. As a result, New York bourbons tend to be smooth and rich, with hints of vanilla and caramel. 

Some of the most popular New York bourbons include Finger Lakes Distilling Bourbon, Taconic Bourbon, and Hudson Baby Bourbon. Whether you’re looking for bourbon to sip neat or use in a cocktail, you can’t go wrong with a bottle from New York.

3. Illinois

Many different bourbons are made in Illinois, but some of the most popular include KOVAL and FEW. These brands have built up a loyal following among bourbon lovers for many years. 

Illinois also has several smaller craft distilleries producing some very exciting bourbons. So whether you’re looking for a classic bourbon or something new and innovative, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste in Illinois.

4. Washington

Washington

There are a lot of great bourbons made in Washington, but our personal favorite is Dry Fly bourbon. It’s made with a mix of corn and triticale [1], and it has a smooth flavor. The other great thing about Dry Fly is that they use locally sourced ingredients, so you know that you’re getting a high-quality product. 

We also really like their packaging – it’s simple and elegant, making the bourbon stand out on the shelf. 

5. Virginia

One of the most popular Virginia bourbons is Bowman Brothers, known for its unique flavor profile that includes vanilla, spice, and oak notes. If you’re looking for a truly special bourbon experience, check it out. 

This straight bourbon has a deep amber color and a rich, complex flavor that has earned it numerous awards. So whether you’re a bourbon fan or just getting started on your whiskey journey, be sure to give Virginia bourbons a try.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can bourbon be distilled outside of Kentucky?

Yes. While bourbon does have a strong association with Kentucky, the fact is that it can be distilled anywhere in the United States. 

A whiskey must meet a few specific requirements to be classified as bourbon. As long as these criteria are met, the whiskey can technically be called bourbon, regardless of where it was produced.

Is Kentucky whiskey the same as bourbon?

Not necessarily. While all bourbons are whiskeys, not all whiskeys are bourbons. The spirit must be produced in the United States to be classified as a bourbon. Additionally, bourbons must be distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume) and bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).

Why must bourbon be made in Kentucky?

Bourbon does not have to be made exclusively in Kentucky. However, Kentucky holds a significant historical association with bourbon production, and many renowned bourbon distilleries are located in the state. The perception that bourbon must be made in Kentucky is a common misconception.

Bourbon can be produced anywhere in the United States, as long as it adheres to the defined standards set by the U.S. Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits.

What are the 5 requirements for bourbon?

The five requirements for bourbon, often referred to as the Bourbon Standards, are:

Produced in the United States: Bourbon must be made within the borders of the United States.

Made from Mash: The mash bill, or grain mixture, must be at least 51% corn.

Aged in New Charred Barrels: Bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels.

Distilled to Specific Proof: It must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof.

Bottled at Specific Proof: Bourbon must be bottled at 80 proof or more.

Adhering to these standards ensures that a whiskey can legally be classified as bourbon.

What is the difference between bourbon and Kentucky bourbon?

The term “Kentucky bourbon” refers to bourbon that is specifically produced in the state of Kentucky. All Kentucky bourbon is bourbon, but not all bourbon is Kentucky bourbon.

While Kentucky is renowned for its bourbon production and is home to many iconic distilleries, bourbon can legally be produced in any state within the United States as long as it meets the defined standards for bourbon production.

Why is Jack Daniels not a bourbon?

Jack Daniel’s is not classified as a bourbon due to its production process. While bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, such as Jack Daniel’s, share similarities in terms of using a mash bill containing at least 51% corn, the key distinction lies in the additional step used in producing Tennessee whiskey.

Jack Daniel’s undergoes the Lincoln County Process, which involves filtering the whiskey through sugar maple charcoal before aging it in new charred oak barrels. This process imparts a unique flavor profile to Jack Daniel’s, differentiating it from the traditional bourbon production methods.

Where is Jack Daniel’s made?

Jack Daniel’s is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, United States. The distillery, known as the Jack Daniel Distillery, is situated in Lynchburg, where the whiskey has been produced since its establishment in 1866.

Is Jack Daniel’s a bourbon?

No, Jack Daniel’s is not a bourbon; it is a Tennessee whiskey. While bourbon and Tennessee whiskey share similarities in terms of using at least 51% corn in the mash bill, the distinction lies in the additional step known as the Lincoln County Process, which involves filtering the whiskey through sugar maple charcoal before aging it in new charred oak barrels.

This process imparts a unique flavor profile to Jack Daniel’s, differentiating it from bourbons.

What is Jack Daniel’s made of?

Jack Daniel’s is made from a mash bill primarily consisting of corn, along with rye and malted barley. The grains are fermented, distilled, and then filtered through sugar maple charcoal before aging in new charred oak barrels.

This additional step, known as the Lincoln County Process, is unique to Tennessee whiskey production, giving Jack Daniel’s its distinct flavor profile.

Can bourbon be made outside of the USA?

While bourbon is strongly associated with the United States, it can be made outside of the USA. However, to legally be labeled as bourbon, it must adhere to the specific regulations outlined by the U.S. Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits.

These regulations include being produced in the United States and meeting criteria such as the mash bill composition, barrel aging process, and bottling proof.

Why is it called bourbon in Kentucky?

The origin of the name “bourbon” is debated, but one widely accepted theory is that it derives from Bourbon County in Kentucky. In the late 18th century, when whiskey production was thriving in the region, barrels were shipped down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, often stamped with the county’s name.

As the whiskey gained popularity, people began referring to it as “Bourbon whiskey” due to its association with Bourbon County, and the name stuck.

Why is it called bourbon?

The name “bourbon” likely originated from the association with Bourbon County, Kentucky, where the whiskey was produced in the late 18th century.

Over time, the term became more generalized to refer to any whiskey produced in a similar style with specific characteristics, as outlined in the Bourbon Standards.

Is Jim Beam Kentucky bourbon?

Yes, Jim Beam is a Kentucky bourbon. Jim Beam is a well-known bourbon brand, and its products are produced in Clermont, Kentucky. As a Kentucky bourbon, it adheres to the regulations outlined by the U.S.

Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, including being produced in the United States and meeting specific mash bill, aging, and bottling requirements.

Why is Kentucky water good for bourbon?

Kentucky’s limestone-filtered water is often considered ideal for bourbon production. The high calcium content in the water can contribute to a smoother and more well-rounded flavor profile in bourbon. Additionally, the limestone naturally filters impurities, providing a clean water source for the production process.

The combination of Kentucky’s climate, soil, and water quality has contributed to the region’s reputation for producing high-quality bourbons.Top of Form

Final Verdict: Does Bourbon Have To Be Made In Kentucky

The state of Kentucky has a long and rich history of whiskey production, and it’s home to some of the most famous distilleries in the world. However, bourbon doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky to be considered genuine. Bourbon can be produced anywhere in the United States, as long as it meets certain regulatory requirements. 

As a result, many excellent bourbons on the market aren’t made in Kentucky. So whether you’re looking for a traditional Kentucky bourbon or something a little different, you’re sure to find a whiskey that suits your taste.

Reference:

  1. Agricultural and Biological Sciences
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