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Bourbon Whiskey

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Bourbon whiskey is an American form of whiskey named for Bourbon County, Kentucky. By United States law, bourbon whiskey consists of at least 51% corn, typically about 70%, with the remainder being wheat and/or rye, and malted barley. Bourbon whiskey is distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof, and aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years. The two years maturation process is not a legal requirement for a whiskey to be called "bourbon", but it is a legal requirement for "straight bourbon whiskey". However, in practice, most bourbon whiskeys are aged for at least four years.

Bourbon whiskey must be put into the barrels at no more than 125 U.S. proof. After aging, the bourbon is diluted with water and bottled. Bottling proof for bourbon whiskey must be at least 80 proof (40% abv) and most bourbon whiskey is sold at 80 proof. Other common proofs for bourbon whiskey are 86, 90, 94, 100 and 107, and bourbon whiskeys of up to 142 proof have been sold. Some higher proof bottlings are "barrel proof".

Bourbon whiskey can legally be made anywhere in the United States where it is legal to distill spirits. Legitimate production of bourbon whiskey is not restricted to Kentucky, although currently all but a few bourbon brands are made there, and bourbon is associated strongly with that commonwealth. Illinois once produced nearly as much bourbon whiskey as Kentucky, and bourbon whiskey continues to be made in Virginia. In the past bourbon whiskey has been made in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas.


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