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13 Things You Need To Know About Bourbon

America's spirit has a rich and interesting history. Brought to you by Jim Beam® Bourbon, making history with Kentucky Straight Bourbon since 1795.

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3. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.


Whiskey includes any spirit made from grain in an open barrel and bottled above 80 proof. Bourbon meets those standards, but for a whiskey to be a bourbon, it must also be made of 51% corn mash and aged in a charred oak barrel. Bourbon need not be distilled in Kentucky, though many of the oldest bourbons are.

4. Bourbon's Kentucky roots are the result of a rebel insurrection.

The National Guard / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: 33252741@N08

In 1794, farmers in Pennsylvania rebelled after the government levied a tax on whiskey. George Washington sent 15,000 troops to quash the rebels. Some surrendered, others fled to Kentucky where they resumed distilling.

5. Bourbon gets its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky.

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In the late 19th century, distillers sent whiskey downriver from Bourbon County to New Orleans. This became known as "The Whiskey from Bourbon," and then just "bourbon."

6. We can thank the French for bourbon's distinctive and delicious maturation process. / Via /

Frenchmen in New Orleans preferred the mellow flavors of bourbon that aged in the barrel during its journey downriver. Kentucky distillers noticed the preference and began aging all their products.

7. Whiskey is the most heavenly spirit around.

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Some of the liquid in a bourbon barrel evaporates each year. This missing whiskey is known as "the angel's share." For older bourbons aged 12 - 18 years, as much as 75% of the original volume can be lost to the angels.

11. Abraham Lincoln reportedly lifted a full bourbon barrel and took a drink from its spigot to win a bet.

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Good Guy Lincoln made the bet to relieve the debts of a friend. He succeeded by squatting and lifting the 400-pound barrel onto his knees. Then he tilted his head around to reach the spigot and took a gulp. But Lincoln, a notorious teetotaler, spit the alcohol out.

12. Unaged bourbon is known as White Dog — but beware, this dog has a bite. / Via

Chemically, White Dog is no different from the moonshine of the prohibition era —though today's version is quality controlled and perfectly safe to consume.

But frankly, it's good any way you like it.

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Jim Beam® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission.


Jim Beam® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 40% Alc./Vol. ©2014 James B. Beam Distilling Co., Clermont, KY