Cigar Basics: Color, Size, and Shape
October 5, 2015
October 26, 2015

An Introduction to Bourbon: America’s Native Spirit

Bourbon is one of America’s most popular drinks. It’s easier to drink than most whiskeys and mixes well in cocktails like old fashioneds or mint juleps. Perhaps most importantly, bourbon pairs well with many cigars! For those who are starting out on their journey to become bourbon experts, or even for the long-time connoisseurs of bourbon, here is an explanation of what makes bourbon unique, a brief history of how bourbon came about and a few fun facts to impress your friends.

Bourbon BLEND Bar and CigarWhat Is Bourbon?

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Each bourbon has a unique and complex flavor due to the maturation techniques used by different distilleries. However, There is a set of rules that makes bourbon distinct from whiskey  that every bourbon distiller must follow:

  • Made in the United States, but not necessarily in Kentucky
  • Made with 51% corn
  • Aged in new charred oak barrels (old barrels are commonly used to age scotch)
  • Begin aging at no more than 125 proof
  • Bottled between 80 and 160 proof
  • No flavoring, coloring or other additives

These rules are actual laws. If a distiller does not follow these rules, then the spirit cannot be labeled as bourbon whiskey. However, there are a few loopholes to these rules. For example, bourbon that has not been aged at all is called “white dog” and can be bottled and sold.

Bourbon BLEND Bar and CigarA Brief History

Bourbon has a long and interesting history, which we will write more about in a later blog. For now, here’s the basics of what you need to know:

Origin. There is some controversy about where the name “bourbon” came from. Perhaps the most popular story is that it is named after Bourbon County, KY. Bourbon county was a popular shipping port for spirits heading down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. One historian makes the argument that the timeline makes it more likely that the whiskey was named after Bourbon street in New Orleans. The least popular explanation is that Bourbon is named after the House of Bourbon, a royal French family. Which do you believe?

Quality. The Bottle in Bond Act of 1987 ensures the quality of all bourbon whiskey labeled as Bottled in Bond. The label indicates that the bourbon was bottled by one distillery in one distillation period.

All-American. Congress declared bourbon to be “a distinctive product of the United States” aka America’s Native Spirit in a 1964 act that was signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

Tourism.  The Kentucky Distillers’ Association created the the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® in 1999. Visitors get a firsthand look at the art and science of crafting bourbon in nine of Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries.

Success. There are currently around 500 million barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky.

Bourbon BLEND Bar and CigarFun Facts

Impress your friends, family and coworkers with these facts about bourbon.

  • The treatment of the charred oak barrels where bourbon is aged is what gives bourbon its flavor and color.
  • The darker the bourbon, the higher the alcohol content.
  • The plug in the charred oak barrel where bourbon is aged is called a “bung.”
  • Maturation of Bourbon is affected by several factors, including warehouse location, temperature, airflow and length of time.
  • Bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky, but about 95% of it is.

Bourbon is a wonderfully complex drink and pairs well with cigars. For pairing recommendations, simply ask any of our employees in BLEND Bar with Davidoff Cigars® and we’ll be happy to help. In addition to commonly found bourbons, we also carry Pappy Van Winkle and rare blends from Blanton’s that have been handpicked and bottled exclusively for BLEND.


Bourbon BLEND Bar BLEND Bar with Davidoff Cigars® is Indianapolis and Nashville’s premier cocktail lounge and cigar bar. BLEND’s selection of premium cigars is second to none, and our walk-in humidor is one of the largest in the US. BLEND is the only appointed merchant for Davidoff cigars in Indiana, so cigar aficionados are sure to find what they are looking for.

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