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Round up the stallions and corral the cattle — there’s some Bourbon down yonder.
But you don’t need a saddle and spurs to kick it with a glass. Both cowpokes and city slickers know a good thing when they taste it, and you don’t need a degree from the Ponderosa to know that when it comes to America’s native Spirit, everyone’s welcome to taste.
Oh, you haven’t bellied up to Bourbon yet? Well. In the words of John Wayne: "Never trust a man who doesn’t drink."
But that’s not you. Giddy-up.
Bourbon is, indeed, a Western-born Spirit, firmly tracing its roots to the U.S. of A. Its origins get a bit murky from there, though. Some claim it was named after Bourbon County in Kentucky, while others argue that the label originated on Bourbon Street, where New Orleans locals nicknamed the new charred barrel Spirit about town, "that Bourbon Whiskey."
While that’s certainly up for debate, what we do know is that the U.S. Congress declared Bourbon "America’s Native Spirit" back in 1964. And whenever the fed gets involved, things get regulated. Enter: The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, which states that Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof, aged in new, charred oak barrels and made in the United States. Got that?
Luckily, the three Spirits in this box more than fit the bill (legally, they kinda have to). But they also uphold the wild, maverick Spirit embodied by Bourbon’s past.
Exhibit A: Yellowstone Select Bourbon, a blend of four Kentucky Bourbons that was born under the hands of Stephen and Paul Beam — yeah, THAT Beam, Jacob Beam was actually their great-great-uncle. Or, the ultra-American (Bob) Dylanesque Heaven’s Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey that’s — unlike some other celebrity brands — not just a marketing hype, and has already won over 40 medals. The vintage-dated Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, on the other hand, honors one of America’s first distillers, Evan Williams, with its unique taste that took 9-10 years to develop.
Ever wonder how the west was won? You’re lookin’ at it right here. So tip back your cup and toast to America’s native dram!
1) The first Yellowstone brand Whiskey was created by Taylor & Williams in the late 1800s. The brand changed hands many times over the years, most recently arriving at Luxco who has partnered with Steve and Paul’s Limestone Branch Distillery to revitalize it — we find that quite fitting since their great-great-uncle was the brand’s original distiller back in the day.
2) In 2018, Bob Dylan registered the trademark for "Bootleg Whiskey" and one thing led to another: he ended up collaborating with Master Blender Ryan Perry and Marc Bushalla on Heaven’s Door Whiskey that comes in an artistic masterpiece of a bottle.
3) Evan Williams was a true American pioneer, innovator, and entrepreneur but also — one of the first Whiskey distillers. He even founded Kentucky’s first distillery on the banks of the Ohio River.
4) Each year, Kentucky's Bourbon and alcohol distillers use 15 to 20 million bushels of corn, crafting 95% of the world’s Bourbon supply. They claim that the Bluegrass State has the perfect mix of climate, conditions and pure limestone water necessary to make Bourbon. Seems legit.
5) In order for a Bourbon to be labeled "Straight Bourbon," it has to be aged for a minimum of two years and requires an age statement if it’s less than four years old. Kinda like getting ID’d at a bar.
6) When in doubt, look for B.O.B., or "bottled in bond" labels. According to the U.S.’s Bottled in Bond Act, these Spirits must be the product of one distiller from one distillery using products from only one distillation period. Basically, their word is as good as their bond.
7) By law, Bourbon barrels can only be used once. After that, most are sold to Scotch distilleries or breweries looking to barrel-age some of their craft Beer.