The Only Alcohol Recognized By Congress Is?
America is a diverse place with thousands of vineyards, breweries, and distilleries big and small that create everything from mass produced beer to small batch gin. Among all the products made by this multitude of alcohol production centers, however, there’s only one alcohol that has been officially recognized by the U.S. Congress: bourbon.
In 1964, bourbon was recognized by a concurrent Congressional resolution as a distinct product of the United States due to it being the only alcohol of completely American origin.
Today bourbon is federally protected. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a legal requirement for bourbon to be produced in Kentucky, but the state has long standing roots with the whiskey and, history aside, is a fine place for making it. The naturally “limestone filtered” water is great for distilling, the summers are warm enough to open the grain of the wood barrels the bourbon is aged in, and the winters are just cool enough to contract the wood–a process that contributes to the flavor of bourbon.
Speaking of flavor, aging, and the legal definition of bourbon, when you purchase a bottle of bourbon labeled “straight bourbon”, you’re purchasing a product with a tightly controlled legal definition. To bear the label “straight bourbon”, the alcohol must meet the following requirements: produced in the United States, made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, aged in new “charred oak” barrels, distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume), entered into barrels for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume), bottled at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume), and be aged for a minimum of two years (an age statement label is required) to four years (no age statement label is required).
Image courtesy of Bbadgett.