Bourbon is the unquestioned king of American whiskey, its production dating back to the 1700s. While bourbon is invariably associated with Kentucky, where 95 percent of all bourbon is produced today, in reality it can be produced anywhere in the U.S. (though only Kentucky Bourbon can include the name of the state on the label). By U.S. law, bourbon must be made from a mash of at least 51% corn; be aged in new, charred oak containers; distilled to no more than 160 proof, entered into barrel at no more than 125 proof, and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no minimum aging requirement for bourbon, although straight bourbon must be aged for at least two years and cannot have added coloring. One of the most popular spirits in today’s drinking world, bourbon prices have been on the rise as stocks have dwindled — although massive investments in the industry promise to ease those supply pressures in coming years.
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I came to Wild Turkey’s latest bottling, American Spirit, with much excitement: It’s a 15-year-old bonded bourbon, 100 proof, produced in small batches, and limited to 24,000 bottles worldwide. What’s not to like? Unfortunately, there’s ...