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Bourbon Rules, Genuine

There are numerous places that show/depict “Bourbon Rules”. Yet, most of the time they are not correct or not completely/entirely correct. The complied Bourbon Rules that are given on this page are the most genuine rules known to this date. Do not be fouled by other sources that do not list everything necessary to create a beautiful Bourbon expression.

These rules have been gathered/collected over the years from Master Distillers at different distillers. Also, from bourbon tours, other knowledgeable enthusiast and from a number of books. Please write, if you are interested in a few books that could provide more insight to these “Rules of Bourbon” and other whisk(e)y rules.

Straight Bourbon Rules:

  • It must contain/be made up of 51-80% corn. (Remainder to be made up of other grains)
  • Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof)
  • When entering into the barrel it must not be over 62.5% (125 proof)
  • Must be aged in new, unused, white oak charred barrel (Not toasted)
  • It must be aged for a minimum of two (2) years
  • If an age is stated on the label, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle (this is if two (2) or more whiskeys have been mingled together).
  • The age of the whiskey does not have to be denoted if it is over four (4) years old. Yet, if the whiskey is at the age of four (4) years or younger, it must be denoted with the age at which it left the barrel
  • If it is to be named a “Kentucky Bourbon” then it must be aged a minimum of  one (1) year and one (1) day in the state of Kentucky
  • Bourbon must not have any added color or flavoring ( the liquid content of an aged barrel cannot be changed or adulterated in any way; other than filtering/straining it – as long as the filtering does not add any variant; i.e. flavoring or color)
  • Bourbon may not be blended. (Blending is where neutral grain spirits have been added to the batch after the aging process was completed)
  • When being bottled it must be between 40-62.5%  (80-125 proof) alcohol per volume
  • When, and if, the bourbon is to be “Cut”, only demineralized/distilled water should be used; If spring water is used at this time it may impart flavor also the living microbes and bacterial will start to degrade the bourbon from within the bottle
  • Bourbon can only be made in the Continental United States (Bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky but, a large majority of it is)
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