Bourbon

Bourbon is as much a part of American heritage as apple pie. The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 pushed the whiskey producing Scotch-Irish settlers of Pennsylvania into the lush Kentucky region, which was originally part of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, Governor of Virginia, offered sixty acres of land in Kentucky in exchange for a permanent structure and crops of "native corn". One of the vast original counties was "Bourbon" established in 1785 and named after the French royal family. Today there are 34 counties that were originally part of Bourbon County. Interestingly enough, no bourbon is made in Bourbon County today. 

The Ohio River port, which shipped Bourbon to the rest of the U. S., stamped the barrels "Old Bourbon" which referred to its origins, not its age. Bourbon soon became synonymous with whiskey especially in the West as it was plentiful and easily transported.

Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. is called “the father of the modern bourbon industry.” Orphaned at an early age, Taylor was raised partially by his great uncle, Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the United States. He was later adopted by another uncle and finished his schooling in Frankfort, Kentucky. He went into banking and after the Civil War his bank took over a couple of distilleries. The first distillery he renamed to O.F.C., which referred to “Old Fire Copper.” He pioneered the use of copper vats and stills. He completely modernized the distilleries into state-of-the-art and best quality bourbon, all bearing the label name of E.H. Taylor. He was also instrumental in the campaigning for the 1879 Bottled in Bond Act, which safe guarded the quality of the product by federal regulation. 

Another notable American, Abraham Lincoln was born in Bourbon country. His father, a distillery worker, sold their homestead for whiskey and cash. Lincoln was said to walk both sides of the line as a teetotaler and proprietor of spirits during the oncoming of prohibition. While most distilleries went under during Prohibition, Early Times is one example of whiskey prospering during The Volstead Act. It was an exception the law made for prescriptions of "medicinal" whiskey. 

Contrary to popular belief, Jack Daniels and George Dickel are not bourbons. They are Tennessee whiskies. Tennessee whiskey is legally the same as Bourbon. What sets it apart is the process of charcoal mellowing prior to barreling.
 
Unlike Tennessee whiskey, bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky unless it is labeled "Kentucky Bourbon". Bourbon must be distilled from a mash containing at least 51 percent corn, and aged a minimum of two years by a law enacted in 1964 that also defines the term “bourbon” as only allowed to be made in the United States. The remainder of the mash is corn, rye, wheat, or malted barley. It must be aged in new charred oak barrels which are sold after use usually to Canada and Scotland. 

Straight Bourbon is as described above. Blended Bourbon has to be at least 51% Straight Bourbon and the rest can be comprised of neutral spirits or whiskey matured in used barrels. Sour Mash Bourbon is a term to describe the government regulated addition of backset or stillage to the fermentation process. Single Barrel is taken from one barrel at one distillery.