#BourbonHeritage Part I: Bourbon 101

The first weekend in September isn’t just special for Labor Day and extra time enjoyed off the clock. Since 2007, it has also marked the start of National Bourbon Heritage Month. This is not one of those made up “National (insert something here)” months, folks. National Bourbon Heritage Month is an actual bill passed by unanimous vote of Congress calling for consumers to enjoy bourbon and its deep-rooted heritage and tradition in US history. So celebrate we will!

I’ve teamed up with the good folks here at Michael’s Genuine to share some knowledge about my favorite spirit here on the blog, complemented by bourbon flights now available for the first time from Miami’s bar. After a little familiarization, you will be prepared to take full advantage of their killer selection. Let’s begin…

In 1964, Congress declared bourbon whiskey a distinct product of the United States. That’s right, we’re talkin’ 100% ‘merican juice right here. So what is bourbon, anyway? Well, bourbon is a type of whiskey which means it’s a spirit that’s been distilled from malted grain. Other types of whiskey (or whisky) include Scotch, Irish, Canadian, rye, and Tennessee whiskey. In order to be designated as bourbon, the law states that the following criteria must be met:

  • Made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
  • Distilled to a proof of no higher than 160 proof
  • Dumped into a barrel at a proof of no higher than 125 proof
  • Aged in a new, charred white oak barrel
  • Bottled at a proof of no lower than 80 proof

Many people ask me, “Does bourbon have to be made in Kentucky?” The answer is simply, “No.” Bourbon can be made anywhere as long as it follows the guidelines listed above. Today, about 95% of bourbon is made in Kentucky though. Michael’s Genuine has a few bourbons from different states: Hudson Baby Bourbon from New York, Smooth Ambler from West Virginia, and A.H. Hirsch from Pennsylvania.

So now that you know a little more about bourbon whiskey, I’d like to invite you to experiment a little bit with it. I’ve created four bourbon flights to allow you to taste the variety of flavors that bourbon has to offer. Whether you’re a beginner who is interested in trying bourbon or a seasoned bourbon veteran, we’ve got you covered. I’ll share more details behind the flights next week. Until then, be sure to check out the MGFD bar for all things bourbon related as we celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month!

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.” ~ Mark Twain

Steve Berry is a native New Englander now living in Coconut Grove for the length of time that qualifies him as a Miami local. Find him online on Twitter @SteveBM, at Blind Tastes where he blogs on bourbon and the dining group Cobaya which he co-founded, and of course, at the @MGFD_MIA bar. Follow along as we explore America’s spirit in September at #BourbonHeritage.