View Full Version : Question on the word "bourbon"

01-11-2006, 11:36
Does all "bourbon" HAVE to be made in the US or can it be made outside of the US?

01-11-2006, 12:30
US only by definition.


01-11-2006, 14:56
Declared "a distictive product of the United States" (IIRC 1964 act of Congress)

01-11-2006, 15:16
In part, at least, this is a trade definition. There is nothing (other than agreement with the U.S.) that can keep someone from some other country from making a whiskey and calling it 'bourbon' there, but it won't be 'bourbon' here. However, many such agreements DO exist to protect the 'franchise' -- just as, for example, the U.S. agreeing that tequila is only made in Mexico.

01-11-2006, 17:19
Tim is exactly right. Although some people may not know this and others know it but deeply regret that it's true, American laws only apply here. If some distiller in Poland wants to make a product called "bourbon," to be sold in Poland, there isn't anything anyone here can do about it. Likewise if he wants to export it to Hungary. At least until Poland and Hungary become full members of the EU, because the EU and the US have a treaty prohibiting it. (I can tell you that, as of a few years ago, there was a Polish-made "bourbon.") All this is worth noting because if you're traveling to, say, Thailand (or you're reading this post from there) and you see something called "bourbon" in a store, there's no telling what it actually is.

I know the EU is in on this (protecting terms such as "scotch" and "cognac") as are Canada and Mexico via NAFTA, but much of the rest of the world is not. I don't know about, say, Australia and when some of our Australian participants have mentioned bourbons available there that aren't sold here, I've often wondered if they might be local products made in a bourbon style.

The treaties that protect bourbon also protect another distinctive product of the United States. Do you know what it is?

The legal effect of the congressional declaration that "Bourbon is a distinctive product of the United States" was simply to put the world on notice that we would not allow a foreign-made whiskey to be labeled as "bourbon" if it was sold in the United States. The treaties go a little further because they require the other signatories to prevent the term's misuse in their jurisdictions as well.

01-12-2006, 11:20
The treaties that protect bourbon also protect another distinctive product of the United States. Do you know what it is?

Tennessee Whiskey?

01-12-2006, 11:45
For some reason, Vidalia onions came to mind when I read Chuck's question, but I may be misremembering some news blurb.

01-12-2006, 12:09
The treaties that protect bourbon also protect another distinctive product of the United States. Do you know what it is?

Tennessee Whiskey?

That is a good question....I would think you are right but I'm interested to know for sure. What else could it be?

01-12-2006, 15:06
If memory serves me correctly, I believe Tennessee whiskey is correct -- which is odd, because I also recall that the U.S. regulations concerning bourbon/whiskey do NOT codify "Tennessee Whiskey" at all. And, further, I believe I recall that fact being a basis for arguing JD and Dickel can't be 'straight' whiskeys, because only those named can be 'straight' -- though the trade treaties themselves call Tennessee whiskey 'straight'.
Or, maybe -- if memory doesn't serve me correctly -- I'm making all that up http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

01-12-2006, 16:13
If he's referring to NAFTA; article 313 protects Bourbon and tennessee whiskies as "Distinctive products of the united states", it also protects Tequila and Mezcal for Mexico

If he's refering the the EU pacts...I haven't got the faintest....

01-12-2006, 18:00
When traveling out side the USA, I would look for the designation "Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey" as well as "product of the USA" on any bottles that claim to be bourbon. These phrases should clear up any confusion as to whether the whiskey in question is authentic or some knockoff product made somewhere other than the USA.


01-12-2006, 20:00
Note also that while there are "American champagnes" in the US market, they can't be sold overseas, as the French have a monopoly on the term, for certain in the EU, and maybe elsewhere as well.

01-12-2006, 20:15
Thanks for the clarificatiosn guys. I guess this brings up an inetresting point about what terms are reserved for certain spirits from certain areas.

Port wine

01-13-2006, 00:53
Yes, it's Tennessee Whiskey in NAFTA and with the EU, and Tim is remembering correctly.