4. It got its name from the county it was born.
They made a unique and popular whiskey in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and folks used to specifically ask for "that whiskey from Bourbon." The name stuck.
5. Limestone is key.
According to distillers like Rutledge, sure you can take the ingredients and make bourbon anywhere, but the key to the uniqueness and great taste of Kentucky bourbon is the water. It's naturally filtered through limestone.
6. Bourbon was once sold as medicine.
During Prohibition, distilleries were still making bourbon because they were licensed to sell it for "medicinal purposes." People who convinced friendly doctors they needed the drink were prescribed one pint every 10 days.
7. 100% of the color comes from the char.
In the last article I explained that nothing can be added to bourbon to flavor or color it, so that rich, amber hue results entirely from the char given the new American White Oak barrels before the spirit is put in.
8. 66% of the flavor comes from the barrel.
Those American White Oak barrels do more than color the bourbon, they also flavor it. Two-thirds of the flavor in bourbon comes directly from the sugars in the barrel.
9. The yeast is a closely guarded trade secret.
According to Rutledge, every distiller in Kentucky has their own proprietary yeast that they use for their bourbon. And they are closely guarded secrets. During our tour of Four Roses' distillery, we were told that a specific person handles the yeast during the process. When it's time, they are called, they pour the yeast in, and leave. No one else is allowed to handle it, lest they pocket some to be analyzed and copied by another distiller.