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Jun 08, 2022 View:

bourbon definition question

Ok, we all know that Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume). That is clear and to the point. What is unclear to me is this: is that the abv of the entire spirit run, or does that mean the distillate must be < 80 abv as it is coming out of the condensor? I ask because it is possible to start well above 80, but still have your spirit cut well below 80 when measured in total. I guess the question is, what is important to the TTB, the emerging distillate at the start, or the total spirit run abv?


Reply:

Total run.

"(1)(i) "Bourbon whisky" [...] is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn [...] and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.
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I concur, had this same conversation with formulation a while back, total run.


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Total run.


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my question is this. What you call bourbon made in Canada? since bourbon by definition must be made in the US.


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Whiskey


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Canadian Whiskey


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So then to ensure a total run of 160 proof or below it would be important to understand efficiencies on your still, fermentation equipment and mashing regimen, correct? It would be a combination of these things that would ultimately lead you to compliance with the TTB I would imagine. Great Q&A. J


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For a simple pot still, the primary factor is going to be the abv in the pot at the start (not that those other things are not important). If you are starting with 40% your take-off abv is going to be higher than if you are starting with 10%.


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FWIW, I am not an expert or even "advanced".

I think your comment though shows the above replies to be incorrect. The wording of the law, commercial practice as I understand at and the intent of the law to define the character of the drink all seem to indicate that during production, the ABV should not exceed %80. A simple pot still would require an initial charge of nearly %55 to produce output above %80.


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FWIW, I am not an expert or even "advanced".

A simple pot still would require an initial charge of nearly %55 to produce output above %80.


Reply:

This is the way I see it.

When using a pot still, the initial part of the cut will be well above 160 proof. It will be "vodka like" ie. not much flavour.

I imagine this is what the rules are trying to prevent.

Now to get the average to or below 160 you will have to finish the cut well below 160, ie catching all that flavour you lost at the start.