Whiskey can be made anywhere from South Africa to Scotland, but in 1964, bourbon was declared “America’s native spirit” by congress, which means to be called bourbon, the spirit MUST be made in the US. And let’s get real – if you’re drinking bourbon, it’s probably from Kentucky, since 95% of the world’s bourbon is made right here in the bluegrass state. In fact, the name bourbon actually originated in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
Besides (of course) the comforting and refined flavor, there are a lot of really REALLY cool things about bourbon that are worth mentioning. Here are a few of our favorites:
There are more barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky than there are people (and horses)
This seems a little strange at first, but considering that bourbon must be aged for a minimum of 2 years to earn the name, the math starts to work out. There are 4.41 million great folks currently living in Kentucky, and 240,000 horses. As of July 2015, there are exactly 5,669,682 million barrels of whiskey aging out there somewhere.
In other words, don’t worry – we’re not going to run out of barrel heads anytime soon. It may take us a minute to get some from the distilleries sometimes, but we’ll always be able to get them.
Kentucky cows are happy cows
Bourbon must be made using AT LEAST 51 percent corn, which is why Jim Beam calls it “whiskey’s sweet spot.” Most distilleries actually use 65+ percent. But what happens after the mash is filtered out? Well, it’s renamed “slop,” and shipped out to farms for the cows to enjoy. So very Kentucky!
The rules for bourbon barrels are very strict
That’s why the barrels are such an iconic part of whiskey culture. Bourbon can only be called bourbon if it’s aged in BRAND NEW charred oak barrels – no reusing. Jack Daniels would actually be bourbon too if they didn’t filter through maple charcoal to add flavor on top of the charring from the oak barrels.
There’s an adorable name for the whiskey that evaporates as it ages
The name for the bourbon lost while it “sleeps” for two years is “the angel’s share,” because it goes up to the angels. It’s difficult for any Kentuckian to imagine Heaven without bourbon.
It’s so nice, you have to pour it twice
Most bartenders will pour bourbon neat or on the rocks in two pours, because the suspended solids in the bourbon that settle to the bottom need a little action to round out the flavor in your glass.
So when you’re pouring bourbon at home, try pouring twice (unless you do already, in which case, carry on).
Did we miss your favorite bourbon fact? Tell us in the comments!