Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 26
  1. #1
    Taster
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    66

    What is Bourbon made of?

    Sorry to ask such a rudimentary question, but I'm not quite clear on this. Is bourbon a blend of wheat, rye, and corn depending on the particular recipe? Also, what is an example of a heavily "ryed" bourbon vs. say, heavily wheated or mainly corn? Are there any bourbons that are only from a single grain?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    The Boss
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    2,645

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    Mark,

    I recommend you have a look here.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,979

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    Some information additional to the FAQ is that while whiskey intended as bourbon must contain at least 51% corn, it cannot contain more than 80%, if it does, it will constitute corn whiskey (of which a number are still marketed). As the FAQ said, most bourbon has corn content of about 65-70%. The balance can be composed of one or more other grains. Traditionally, rye is used because of its contribution to flavor. The remainder invariably is barley malt, its purpose is to convert the starches in the corn and rye into fermentable sugar. An alternate to rye in the mashbill is wheat. Wheat tends to give whiskey a lighter taste. A ryed bourbon is one which employs rye in the mashbill in addition to the corn, also, the term is used sometimes informally to mean a bourbon in which the percentage of rye is relatively high, e.g., Old Grandad and the brands associated to it (e.g., Basil Hayden). A wheat-recipe bourbon is one in which the "small grains" other than barley malt is wheat, e.g. Maker's Mark, the Weller bourbons, the Old Fitzgerald bourbons, the Van Winkle bourbons. For rye whiskey, the mashbill must be composed of at least 51% rye, and the remainder generally is corn and barley malt. Except for Old Potrero, all rye whiskey made in the U.S. employs some corn in the mashbill. Historically however, rye whiskey recipes often used all rye except for some barley malt, e.g. 80% rye and 20% barley malt. Usage varied depending on locality and what was available. Your "typical" bourbon, e.g. Jim Beam, is a rye recipe bourbon and because rye is flavourful and corn less so, such bourbons get a lot of their flavour from the rye albeit it is used in small quantities.

    Gary

  4. #4
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    182

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    Gary, I think we established before, thanks to Chuck posting the federal regs , that bourbon can indeed have more than 80% corn in the mashbill. It has to have at least 51% corn and follow all the other legal requirements (entry proof, barrel type and aging duration, etc.) in order to be bourbon. If the whiskey mashbill is 80% corn or above, and fails to satisfy even one of the bourbon legal requirements, then the whiskey is corn whiskey, at least generically (but see below). The Regan's book (The Bourbon Companion, page 149) as much as says, for example, that the mashbill for Old Charter is 86% corn, 6%rye and 8%barley malt. In their glossary definition of straight bourbon, they say nothing about an upper corn limit, because there isn't one. In their entry on corn whiskey, they define it as "a whiskey made from a mash containing a minimum of 80 percent corn and, it if it is aged at all, it must be aged in used or uncharred oak barrels."

    The limbo area would be a whiskey made with more than 80% corn, that was aged just like bourbon, but failed to meet all the additional legal requirements for bourbon. Then it would be generically a corn whiskey, but maybe not legally a corn whiskey. It would not be bourbon in any event, because it failed the requirement(s) somehow. Cheers, Ed V.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,979

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    Thanks Ed, I did not realise that and appreciate the correction. I'll check again just to satisfy myself but this sounds undoubted based on the Old Charter mashbill. Good catch.

    Gary

  6. #6

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    I believe all corn whiskey must be at least 80% corn, but not all 80%-corn whiskey is 'corn whiskey' -- e.g., as Ed says, it can be bourbon.

  7. #7
    Guru
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    SI, NY
    Posts
    2,083

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    You can look here as well. (shameless plug)

  8. #8
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Seattle, USA
    Posts
    239

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    Mark -

    On your page, it states, "If a whiskey contains more than 80% corn, it becomes a corn whiskey.* And if it contains more than 51% rye it becomes a rye whiskey."

    As pertains to corn whiskey, this is at odds with what's been posted above. Which one is accurate?

    Could a whiskey conceivably be 100% corn and still be bourbon if it satisfied the other requirements?

  9. #9
    Administrator in exile
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Posts
    3,904

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    Could a whiskey conceivably be 100% corn and still be bourbon if it satisfied the other requirements?
    Yes and no by my understanding. Yes in that it could meet the guidelines for a bourbon, no in that there must be some malted barley in there to provide enzymes for starch conversion.

  10. #10
    Guru
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    SI, NY
    Posts
    2,083

    Re: What is Bourbon made of?

    I don't know, what is accurate? I did that section while at home after surgery and used information I found off the net. So whatever various sources I found, that's what was used. It was more for fun and general knowledge than to (as I look at it) take complete fun out of this whole thing.

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. What makes (or always has made) Bourbon such a unique drink to you?
    By Frank80 in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 29
    Last Post: 06-25-2007, 01:57
  2. Look who made the NYT
    By AVB in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-16-2006, 13:20
  3. Linn Made Me Do This
    By bluesbassdad in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 05-30-2002, 12:11
  4. Made in Kentucky
    By kitzg in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 08-26-2000, 12:27

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top