Learning about bourbon can easily become a lifetime pursuit—who knew that you can become a certified bourbon steward, join a bourbon club, or listen to hours of bourbon podcasts?
Luckily, bourbon basics begin with two easy-to-remember facts:
- All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.
- Bourbon must be U.S. made and meet certain specifications, thanks to a 1964 law signed by the president from the Hill Country, Lyndon Baines Johnson. (Similarly, champagne is only from the Champagne region of France; all other bubblies are sparkling wine.)
The law stipulates pretty specific rules, saying that bourbon must be produced “from not less than 51 percent corn” and be “stored in charred new oak containers,” usually barrels.
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Bourbon’s complexity is created by distillers’ finetuned fermented mashes and how the barreled spirits are aged, a key step in taming the fiery alcohol that distillation produces. “Straight” bourbon requires two years’ aging, and premium bourbons like Garrison Brothers spend a minimum of four years in barrels.
Until recently, bourbon was only made in Kentucky, but bourbon may be created in any state, much to the joy of Dan Garrison—Garrison Brothers founder, bourbon lover, and Texan—who in 2010, introduced the first bourbon whiskey legally made in Texas.
Garrison Brothers is proud to source its mash grains in Texas, from High Plains white corn to barley grown near Fort Worth, and that it uses Texas aquifer and rain water. Its unique recipe, together with the state’s temperature variability, help create the award-winning bourbon’s flavor concentration believed to be achievable only in the Lone Star State.