For a whiskey to be called a bourbon, it first by law has to have a mash bill with at least 51 percent corn. Depending on how much of the remaining bill is wheat or rye is the reason why we have wheated bourbon (typically mellower and softer) and rye bourbon (a spicier taste). The mash must also be distilled at 160 proof or less, put into the barrel at 125 proof or less. After the mash bill criteria is met, next is the the barrel aging process. Additionally by law, bourbon has to be aged in a charred white oak barrell, and a new one at that. This stipulation caused problems for many major distillers during the bourbon boom of the past 10 years when there was a massive shortage of new barrels for the unexpected increased demand. The last criteria for bourbon: it has to be made in the U.S.A. Much of the bourbon we buy comes from Kentucky, which is where the name originated from in a certain area called Old Bourbon, now known as Bourbon County.
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