Role of Oak Barrels in WinemakingApril 10, 2018
All About Barrels – Explore the Why and How of Wine Aging and MaturingMay 2, 2018
Bourbon and Whiskey. The names conjure up memories for me of snow falling softly in winter, campfires in the mountains with friends, and long nights out in Kentucky. In my mind, no other alcoholic beverage is more related to the history of the United States of America.
Here at Rocky Mountain Barrel Company, these two barrels are some of the main cornerstones of our business. We have sold over 14 different brands in the past 12 months to customers in dozens of countries around the world. One of the main questions we get is, “What is the difference?”
The classic saying goes “All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.”
By definition, whiskey is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash. These grains can consist of all sorts of varieties including wheat, rye, barley, and corn — and then aged in wooden barrels.
“Bourbon needs to be produced in America and made from 51 percent corn, and whiskey does not,” says Maker’s Mark Master Distiller Greg Davis. Bourbon also needs to be stored in new charred oak barrels, whereas whiskey barrels do need to be ok but not new or charred. “Lastly, to be called bourbon, the liquid needs to be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125.”
These are some of the main reasons why a single-use (the only kind) Bourbon barrel is more expensive than whiskey barrels. Many times, a distiller will put the exact same mash bill into the same barrel, only to have to call it whiskey.
Fun Facts about Bourbon I’d bet you a beer you didn’t know..
-The name bourbon actually comes from the House of bourbon, a 16th-century French royalty family
-95% of all bourbon made comes from KY, but you can make it in any state of the USA
-Straight bourbon must have been aged for at least two years in new oak
-Thomas Jefferson (more on him in a later blog post) LOVED the stuff. He offered farmers 60 acres of prime KY farmland to grow crops for bourbon in 1780.
-During WWII many distilleries were converted to produce penicillin
- Must be made in the United States.
- Must contain 51% corn.
- Must be aged in new oak-charred barrels.
- Must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof.
- Must be bottled at no less than 80 proof.
- Must not contain any added flavoring, coloring, or other additives.
Here at RMBC, we love bourbon and whiskey! We offer a stacked deck of casks at any time for your aging needs. Click below to check out some of the products!
Skyler E. Weekes, EWS, ECWA
CEO, Rocky Mountain Barrel Company