View Full Version : What is "OLD" Bourbon?

03-02-2008, 04:22
As I am relatively new to drinking Bourbon I was interested in understanding what the Label on my commodity brand Bourbon meant.
It used to be called "Golden Sun Straight Old Kentucky Bourbon" and is now called "Western Gold Straight Old Kentucky Bourbon" (imported and bottled in Germany). I did a 'net search last year and understand the requirements to be call "Straight Kentucky Bourbon" but I cannot remember how a Bourbon receives the title of "Old" and can no longer find any commentary on this.
Can someone help?
Dave E. (UK).

03-02-2008, 06:19
The addition of the word 'Old' is the decision of the bottler/Producer. It is usually added to conjer up some notion that the word means a higher quality,etc. which is total bullshit.
Joe :usflag:

03-02-2008, 13:21
IIRC, those regulations are for the U.S. market only. Your locality may use a different set of standards.

03-02-2008, 14:41
As Jeff Mo. says, US labeling regs only apply in the US. The EU or individual countries may require imports to meet the labeling requirements of the country of origin, which would be logical, but I'm not sure if they do or not.

I do know that, by treaty, EU countries will not allow a spirit to be called "bourbon" unless it was made in the United States and entitled to the name "bourbon" under US law, but that agreement covers only the terms "Bourbon" and "Tennessee Whiskey." It does not address terms like "Old," "Straight," or even "Kentucky."

In your case, the label says it was imported and bottled in Germany. That means the German producer bought a quantity of whiskey from a US distiller, maybe more than one. Maybe the whiskey was shipped in the barrel, maybe it was dumped and shipped in stainless steel tanks. Either way, if it was bottled in Germany it was labeled in Germany, under German or EU regulations.

You can be confident it meets the US requirements for bourbon. Here is what the other terms mean here in the USA.

"Old" doesn't mean anything, regulations-wise. It's a word producers use if they think it will help their product sell. It traditionally is a way of suggesting aging without actually making an age claim. It's considered a subjective term, like "best," and comes under the heading of marketing puffery. It is not regulated.

"Straight" is regulated. It means aged for at least two years.

"Kentucky" means distilled and aged in Kentucky. This isn't regulated per se except on basic truth-in-advertising principles. The regs say that if a label indicates a place of origin then the product actually has to have been made in that place.