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  1. #1
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    Bourbon & Straight Bourbon

    As far as I know,at least two years of maturation is a requirement for a whiskey to be called "straight bourbon". But, in many articles I read on the web and also in many translations in Turkey, it's stated as a requirement to be called "bourbon". So;

    1. Am I right about the definition above?
    2. Is there a min. maturation period requirement (less than 2 years, ok) also for "bourbon (not staright bourbon)"?
    3. Are there any bourbons which aren't straight bourbon?

  2. #2
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    mrt,

    I won't try to answer your questions directly.

    However, a search on keyword "regs" and userid "Cowdery" (Chuck is among our most knowledgeable members in this area) yielded several relevant posts. You may find this thread especially informative.

    Also this link to the regs may be informative if you feel like wading through it.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield
    Last edited by bluesbassdad; 03-30-2006 at 13:38.
    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

    Dog Lover, Euphonium Player, Campfire Guitarist, Marksman,

  3. #3
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    Chuck is indeed an expert and maybe he will want to answer again (indeed there is much on past threads on this, from Chuck and others) but I can tell you that a whiskey does not have to be aged 2 years to be called "bourbon". To be a "bourbon" it needs to be "whiskey" first. Whiskey is distilled from a cereal mash at under 190 proof. To be "bourbon" it needs to be distilled at under 160 proof, made from a mash in which at least 51% is corn, and aged in new charred barrels. The regs don't say for how long. The assumption is, for a time, say 6 months. If it meets these requirements but is aged for at least two years, it can be called straight bourbon (there may be one or two other requirements in terms of the source of the whiskey but this is the essential). Most bourbon is at least 4 years old for reasons which maybe go beyond the scope of this answer. Therefore, the question of which brands are sold as bourbon but not straight bourbon is largely unimportant. However, there are I believe one or two of those brands around.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 03-30-2006 at 19:16.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    The point probably should be made that the "standards of identity" really only apply in the United States. There is some protection provided by treaty with Canada, Mexico and the European Union, but those basically protect the word "bourbon" and may not extend to the details. Point is, it's hard for me to know how something might be labeled in Turkey or anywhere outside the U.S.

    That said, while it is possible to make, label and sell a "bourbon whiskey" that is not "straight bourbon whiskey," it hasn't been done in living memory. In the U.S., at least, the omission of "straight" on the label doesn't mean anything, except that the marketer chose not to use it. One assurance would be to scour the label for an explicit age statement. If you can't find one, then that means (by law) that the whiskey is at least four years old so, considering that the requirement for "straight bourbon" is just two, that would be straight bourbon, even if it doesn't say so.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery
    If you can't find one, then that means (by law) that the whiskey is at least four years old so, considering that the requirement for "straight bourbon" is just two, that would be straight bourbon, even if it doesn't say so.
    This is all very confusing. I read this to mean that a product called "straight bourbon" only needs to be aged 2 years but a product called "bourbon" needs to be aged 4 years. Is that correct?
    Joe
    Colonel Joseph B. "Bourbon Joe" Koch

    "Bourbon.....It's cheaper than therapy!!"

  6. #6
    Joe, it needs to be aged 4 years to dispense with an age statement, 2 years to be 'straight'. Thus, if it is bourbon with no age statement, it is at least 4 years old, thus 'straight'.
    Tim

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Quote Originally Posted by BourbonJoe
    This is all very confusing. I read this to mean that a product called "straight bourbon" only needs to be aged 2 years but a product called "bourbon" needs to be aged 4 years. Is that correct?
    Joe
    Sorry. Any bourbon aged for less than four years must, by law, state its age on the label. If there is no age statement, then it is four years old and, by definition, also meets the 2-year-old requirement for "straight."

    By the way, the rules for "straight" and the rule about age statements also applies to straight rye whiskey, straight wheat whiskey, etc. The rules are slightly different for straight corn whiskey.

  8. #8
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    If it's "straight bourbon" with no age statement does it only have to be 2 years old?
    Joe
    Colonel Joseph B. "Bourbon Joe" Koch

    "Bourbon.....It's cheaper than therapy!!"

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by BourbonJoe
    If it's "straight bourbon" with no age statement does it only have to be 2 years old?
    Joe
    If it's only 2 years old, it must carry an age statement. If there is no age statement, it is at least 4 years old.
    Thus, there can be no 2yo straight bourbon without an age statement.
    Look at it this way: Just as you don't have to say 'whiskey' on the bottle if it says 'bourbon', because ALL bourbon IS whiskey, you don't have to say 'straight' on the bottle if there is no age statement, because ALL 4yo bourbon (which is has to be to delete the statement) IS 'straight' (or at least 2 years in barrel).
    Last edited by TNbourbon; 04-03-2006 at 08:04.
    Tim

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery
    That said, while it is possible to make, label and sell a "bourbon whiskey" that is not "straight bourbon whiskey," it hasn't been done in living memory.
    What about bourbons blended from different distilleries? Can I bottle a bourbon which has 60% from distillery X, 40% from distillery Y, and still call it "straight bourbon"?

 

 

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