Bourbon is the true, native spirit of America. Enthusiasts love its smoky, smooth flavor, just as much as each bottle’s unique backstory. So, it comes as no surprise that millennials, so concerned with authenticity and the origins of what they consume, buy into all the tall tales.
Turns out, according to a recent video by Bloomberg, that those claims of bourbon being crafted by a family of pioneers or a group of renegades is more folklore than fact.
First, know that all bourbon is 1) made in America, 2) produced from a grain mixture containing at least 51% corn, 3) must be stored in new, charred oak barrels, 4) must enter the barrel at no more than 125 proof, and 5) must be distilled to no more than 160 proof. This is the law of the land.
But, Bloomberg’s Sam Grobart reveals that there are 200-plus brands of bourbon on the shelves, but only 14 distilleries in Kentucky. You do the math.
Grobart looked into Bulleit Bourbon; he ventured to Lawrenceburg, KT to find the supposed Bulleit Distilling Company, cited on the label. He doesn’t find it, though, because it doesn’t exist. In reality, the liquor is owned and produced by DIAGEO, an international conglomerate, with Tom Bulleit as a mere spokesman.
Since the bourbon boom began in 2009, revenues have increased upwards of 40%. Companies capitalized by using one recipe to make a variety of bourbons (only difference –aging time). Jim Rutledge, Master Distiller at Four Roses Distillery, explains that during the aging process, companies have negative cash flow, forcing them to diversify their portfolios one way or another.
Now, none of this means means you should you stop drinking bourbon by any means, but take all of this as a reminder to not always believe the hype on the label…
Steph is a native New Yorker with a love of culture, creativity, and communications. She’s a foodie, nutrition junkie, yogi, wine-lover, bookworm, world traveler, style-addict, and people person. She also runs her event planning company, Orchard + Broome.