There are several rules that define bourbon, the official spirit of the United States. One common misconception is that it has to be distilled in Kentucky. In fact, bourbon can be produced in any of the 50 United States. Federal standards governing the identity of bourbon dictate that it is a ‘distinctive product of the United States’ and that ‘the word “bourbon” shall not be used to describe any whiskey or whiskey-based distilled spirits not produced in the United States’.
Bourbon’s mash (the mixture of grains from which the distillate is made) must be at least 51% corn. It must be distilled at 160 proof or less and the final distillate stored in new charred American Oak barrels at 125 proof or less.
Here’s where another distinction comes in. Straight bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years. It can be a blend of other straight bourbons, provided each of their mash bills contain 51% or more corn. It is bottled at a minimum of 80 proof (40% ABV).
Bottled-in-Bond bourbon must be made entirely within one distillation season by one distillery, aged a minimum of 4 years in new charred oak barrels, at a federally bonded warehouse.
Even the labels have different rules. Straight bourbon’s label must list the state(s) the bourbon was distilled and bottled in. The label for a Bottled-in-Bond bourbon must identify the actual distillery with their DSP number and where it was bottled should that location differ.