The Distiller’s Journal

Whiskey 101

“You can’t call it bourbon, that can only be made in Kentucky.” If I had a dollar for every…

Over the past couple years we’ve had thousands of people visit the distillery for our tours, most of which our braniac tour guide and distiller Mike hosts (he’s a scientist at a biotech by day, whiskey distiller by night and weekend). There’s a lot of information to pack into a 45 minute tour, so we decided to create our “Whiskey 101” card. Not only do we cover the Federal requirement to make bourbon whiskey (take note of the A-G acronym), we also cover the other 3 whiskey categories – Scotch, Irish, and Canadian.

The cool thing about this card is you can start to correlate the laws around how they are produced to how the products taste. For example, bourbon has to be aged in a new barrel unlike the other categories, and as you know, bourbon is a rich, heavily wood influenced type of whiskey. There’s lots of other fun stuff on the card as well. We can even usually teach a seasoned “whiskey geek” a thing or two on the card.

So keep all these factoids in your back pocket for the next time you’re sharing a glass with friends or standing around the water cooler on a dull Monday morning!


  1. Why not sum up the American whiskey regulations for Straight American Whiskey, rather than just Bourbon. The others are the national styles whose rules apply to that whiskey, why not do the same for the US, rather than describe a type? So, here we have the…

    Straight American Whiskey

    Aged for 2 years at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers.

    At least 51% of one type of grain.

    Not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash.

    Not added coloring or flavors may be added.

    Other straight whiskeys following these guidelines may be married and must be labeled respectively.

    Hope I didn’t miss anything… http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/5.22#b

    Posted by JPFrau, March 15, 2013 | Reply

    • All the requirements are the same for every other type of American whiskey, just has to be 51% of the given grain respectively. Since bourbon makes up the vast bulk of American whiskey, we chose it as our example.

      Posted by OrlinS, March 20, 2013

  2. Do you know of any one that is making a gluten free skotch style wiskey at the present time? I would love to be able to supply my son in law with such a gift. Jim

    Posted by James Gisbrecht, March 31, 2013 | Reply

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