Fun Bourbon Facts to Impress Your Friends


Are you "whiskey-wise?" There are a ton of folks who are into bourbon these days, and everyone is some kind of self proclaimed expert in all things brownwater. Myself, I'm a Certified Bourbon Professional (CBP) and as such, have a little more gusto behind the randomness that spews out of my mouth as it pertains to my favorite brown liquid, bourbon. Aside from the high level "oh, you know it's required by law to be 51% corn" or "it can only be made in new charred oak barrels" there's not a lot of additional depth to most bar discussions. Let me arm you with some interesting bourbon facts that will help elevate any future brownwater conversation! Get ready to become "whiskey-wise."


whiskey-wise

adjective

having or showing experience, knowledge and good judgement in all things brownwater.

"(s)he seems pretty whiskey-wise"


Great Bourbon Facts


Bourbon distilleries helped save America...twice.

Fifteen years before the outbreak of World War II, Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin. During the war, bourbon distilleries converted to making the infection fighting drug on a large scale saving an untold number of American troops from certain death. Additionally, at the onset of the covid outbreak which now seems forever ago but which took the world by storm, in a very similar fashion, distilleries started shifting production to hand sanitizers to aid in fighting the spread of the disease.


There are more than twice as many bourbon barrels than people in Kentucky!

As of 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are approximately 4.5 million people in Kentucky. That number stands in stark contrast to the estimated 10 million barrels of bourbon in 2020...and that number has certainly only gone up since then!!


More than half the cost of a bottle of bourbon is taxes.

Although you'd think this would only be a thing in a tax heavy state like Illinois where there's seems to be a tax on the tax, but around 60% of the cost of your bottle goes to government in one way, shape, or form. As a matter of fact, there are seven different taxes on bourbon - SEVEN - local, state, federal, ad velorem, the list goes on. The state of Washington has the highest alcohol excise tax of any state in the country at $35.31 per gallon. Wyoming and New Hampshire stand apart on the figure below as they require all wine and spirits to be bought at government monopoly stores which are essentially tax free. I'd probably still buy a bottle of Pappy in Washington if I happened across one for sale...bring on the taxes!


State Distilled Spirits Excise Tax Rates (dollars per gallon)
How High are Distilled Spirits Taxes in Your State?

The Mint Julep was a cover up for subpar bourbon.

Historically, whiskey didn't have the same quality control and standards that we enjoy today. That meant that you kind of spun the wheel of destiny with any bottle you might open...and...occasionally you'd get one that had some funkiness to it. However if one just added in a heavy enough dose of sugar and mint then wallah, those tastes were gone, and so the mint julep was born...check out our recipe for the classic Mint Julep (and other bourbon-centric derby drinks) here.


Drinking bourbon is good medicine.

President Harry Truman on the advice of his doctors started each day with a shot of bourbon. After his morning "medicine" he'd take a brisk walk with the company of his secret service detail and staff. What high brow whiskey would this be? The rumor is that the drink of choice for President Truman was Old Grandad. Grab a handle on the cheap and add it to your morning routine to elevate your game!


Evan Williams was the first.

Although the name is likely familiar to many, what most don't know is that Evan Darius Williams was Kentucky's first licensed distiller!


The "proof" is in the bubbles, literally.

A fun party trick that historically was utilized to recognize counterfeit bourbon is to shake your bottle for a few seconds. If the resultant bubbles that come to the top disappear quickly the juice in the bottle is 80 proof or less. If those bubbles however stay for maybe 20, 40 seconds you have a 100 proof or higher bottle.


Bourbon that's illegal to fly with? Yes, indeed.

As a general rule of thumb, you can bring bourbon on a plane in your checked bag. However, you can't bring bourbon that is higher than 140 proof because these bottles are considered hazardous given the elevated alcohol by volume percentage. These bottles are known as "hazmat" bottles and include such things as George T. Stagg and Jack Daniels Coy Hill bottlings (though ABV varies on either side of the hazmat line).


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