25 Fun Facts About Bourbon That Might Just Inspire You to Pour One

You have undoubtedly sipped some bourbon while chowing down barbequed meat or chilling with your crew. However, how much do you know about this whiskey bourbon, apart from its taste?

We have included 25 interesting and surprising facts about this famous American spirit. Now you will have impressive talking points to show off during happy hour with your friends.

1. Not all bourbon is from Kentucky.

While Kentucky (also called the Bluegrass State) produces 95% of the globe’s bourbon, no laws require distillers to make the spirit from there. In fact, over the past few decades, craft distilleries all over the country have been producing bourbon intending to cash in on the whiskey’s increasing popularity. However, many loyalists firmly believe that premium quality bourbon only comes from Kentucky.

2. Bourbon county started producing the spirit in 2014.

Since the U.S. state signed the Volstead act into effect in 1919, bourbons birthplace had not made a single bottle of this magnificent whiskey. The county was liquor free up to 2014 when Hartfield & Co, a medium-sized distillery, set up shop in Paris, which is the county’s seat.

3. Bourbon got its name after a powerful French Dynasty called the House of Bourbon.

When the whiskey rebellion broke out in 1791, George Washington encouraged the tax-evading, disgruntled settlers to go southward into Kentucky, which was then under Virginia state. The governor, Thomas Jefferson, gave each settler that agreed to make American whiskey (native corn) sixty acres of land. Jefferson, a known Francophile, then called the settlement Bourbon County. After the 18th-century French Bourbon Dynasty. The family was immensely wealthy and held court over parts of Italy and Spain.

Immediately the spirit started flowing; the settlers placed “Bourbon County” stamps on the barrels to mark their origin. After which, they moved their product down the Ohio and Missouri rivers. Over time, the spirit became known by most buyers as bourbon whiskey, and the name became permanent.

4. The law requires distillers only to use bourbon barrels once.

According to federal regulations, distillers should age bourbon spirit in charred, new oak barrels, which they must discard after completion of the aging process. As a result, many alcohol producers typically buy used barrels from bourbon distillers.

5. There are more bourbon barrels than humans in Kentucky.

In 2021, Kentucky had a population of 4.5 million, whereas the number of barrels stood at around 11.3 million. Now you understand why the state can produce over 90% of the globe’s bourbon.

6. Technically, bourbon has no minimum aging requirement.

Even though the law requires distillers to age straight bourbon for at least two years, distilled corn whiskey is still bourbon even when it stays inside a barrel for ten seconds and then bottled. It’s hard to find distillers exploiting this loophole since they have to label all bourbon aged fewer than four years, and that would reduce its market value.

7. Bourbon should be majorly corn.

Federal regulations direct that all the bourbon mash (this is what dispenses the sugar) must contain at least 51% corn. Such a provision keeps America the world’s number one maize producer. Moreover, the laws prohibit distillers from adding other spirits, flavoring, or coloring into bourbon, ensuring the whiskey remains completely clean.

8. Bourbon is America’s only native spirit.

In 1964, on May 4th, Congress passed a resolution proclaiming bourbon spirit an “exclusive United States Product.” The resolution meant that whiskey produced in other countries could not be called bourbon or sold as bourbon inside the U.S., a move that cemented the whiskey’s role in the country’s history. Later, the Federal Standards of Identity for distilled spirits put out a list of strict guidelines that all distillers must follow to stamp their whiskey bourbon.

9. A third of bourbon disappears.

Depending on the particular cellar conditions, up to 3% bourbon whiskey will naturally evaporate yearly inside the aging barrel. After seven or nine years, the distillers will have lost up to a third of their product. Experts call this Angel’s share, which escapes to heaven to surfeit the angels.

10. Winston Churchill’s mother allegedly created the Manhattan.

Legend has it that Randolph Churchill, mother of two-time prime minister Winston Churchill invented the famous Manhattan cocktail. The drink is a mixture of bitters, rye or bourbon, and sweet vermouth. According to historians, Randolph, commonly known as Jennie, made the cocktail to honor Samuel Tilden’s victory in the 1874 gubernatorial election. Though there are many still disputing this timeline.

11. You could only drink whiskey bourbon if you had a doctor’s prescription during the prohibition.

Despite the U.S. government’s rigid stand on alcohol consumption, they made a few exemptions to the tight Volstead Act. For example, priests and rabbis could get limited bourbon during religious practices. Ordinary citizens could also purchase the spirit if they had a prescription from a certified doctor. This exemption kept most Kentucky distilleries alive during the thirteen hard years of prohibition.

12. The Japanese own the most famous whiskey bourbon brands.

Many bourbon enthusiasts assume that Kentucky elites own the spirit. That isn’t the case, yes, there are distilleries owned by a few Kentucky residents, but a large portion of the state’s distilling industry belongs to various Japanese corporations. For instance, Jim Beam, a world’s best-seller, became Santory’s product in 2014. The company also owns Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek, and Maker’s Mark. Additionally, Kirin, a Japanese company, bought four rouses in 2001. 

13. William Faulkner was a huge fan of Four Roses.

The southerners deeply love bourbon, and William Faulkner, one of the greatest American novelists, was no different. He is famously known to have fueled the late-night writing stretches with a bottle of bourbon. William Faulkner even said that “Civilization starts with distillation.” His preferred spirit cocktail was the Mint Julep, which he made by mixing a teaspoon of sugar, bourbon, crushed ice, and mint in a metal cup. (William Faulkner’s metal cup is currently on display in his one-time home of Rowan)

14. Markers Mark began court battles over its signature wax seal. 

Unknown to many, trademarks cover more than words and symbols. The producers of Markers Mark perfectly understood this and consequently got a federal patent for their signature seal in 1985. In 2003, Marker’s Mark sued Diageo North America, Cuervo’s parent company, for using a similar wax seal on their tequila, Reserva De la Familia.

Marker’s Mark argued that Diageo had violated federal trademark laws, and they won the case. Diageo North America appealed in 2012, but the Judge upheld the previous ruling. Therefore, Marker’s Mark is the only liquor allowed to bear, such as a seal.

15. Bourbon led to the invention of drinking straws. 

Up to the 1880s, bourbon lovers sipped cocktails using a hollowed-out ryegrass stalk. It wasn’t ideal, as the grass left a displeasing residue when it deteriorated. One day, Mavin Stone, a Washington DC resident enjoying his tasty Mint Julep and struggling with the faulty grass straw, thought paper would work better. He then began to wrap a couple of pieces of paper around a pencil, took out the pencil, and then glued these papers in a solid cylindrical shape. Mavins’ ingenious design quickly gained traction among fellow drinkers all over the country. So in 1888, he got a patent for an improved drinking straw made of manilla paper.

16. Unaged whiskey bourbon is called White Dog.

Technically, you can’t call unmatured whiskey bourbon. However, federal laws allow distilleries to sell this corn-based clear spirit. Some top distilleries, such as Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, and Maker’s Mark, recently started selling White Dog. These companies aim to capitalize on the growing demand for small-batch spirits.

17. Only a few types of whiskey bourbon have an “e” in their spelling.

In Ireland and the United States, bourbon is called whiskey with an “e,” but in all the other countries which produce the spirit, they use the term “whisky.” Either way, both spellings are correct, but the origin of the difference has been a source of contention. Some argue it is only a linguistic variation such as “flavor” and “Flavor.” Others say it’s due to the different kinds of whiskeys produced worldwide.

18. Bourbon distilleries produced penicillin during World War Two.

When World War two began, wound infections became a critical concern, as many soldiers succumbed to them. Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin about 15 years earlier. However, antibiotic was scarce. Therefore, bourbon distilleries stepped in and produced large amounts of Penicillin which then saved the lives of millions of soldiers. Additionally, when Covid-19 broke out, most bourbon distilleries started manufacturing alcohol-based sanitizers to help fight the pandemic.

19. It’s almost impossible to find the best whiskey bourbon. 

Numerous whiskey lovers agree that the Pappy Van Winkle is the highest quality bourbon money can buy. Getting Pappy Van Winkle is extremely difficult, as there is a long waiting list, and you’ll need deep pockets to get one.

20. Taxes make up for more than half the price of a bottle.

The government typically takes about 60% of the cost of bourbon whiskey. Furthermore, Kentucky distillers pay property taxes worth a staggering 14 million dollars to store their many barrels.

21. Harry S. Truman had bourbon for breakfast.

Reportedly America’s 33rd president Harry S. Truman used to begin his day with a heavy breakfast: bacon, milk, eggs, and bourbon. After breakfast, he would then handle his daily duties. Looking at what Truman achieved during his tenure, we can’t judge his morning routine.

22. There is a bourbon trail you can follow.

The next time you visit Kentucky, make a point to pass through the bourbon Trail. It has historic hotels, 37 distilleries, and plenty of restaurants; it’s an experience all bourbon fans should partake in. You will understand Kentucky’s history and how the bourbon industry has helped it grow. Plenty of guides can walk you through all the best spots by bus, boat, or bike. You can even drive yourself around, but we don’t recommend doing so if you’ll sample some of the spirits, as bourbon has a high alcohol content.

23. You can buy a barrel of whiskey bourbon. 

Why buy a bottle when you can get a whole barrel of your preferred distillation? However, barrels are costly, often ranging between $5000 and $15000 or more. If you buy a barrel, ensure you pick one from the Crows Nest; this is the top level of a warehouse where distillers store premium quality spirits.

24. Whiskey bourbon has its month. 

The United States Senate, in August 2007, passed a decree recognizing September as the National Bourbon Heritage Month. Though this may have little impact on the regular consumer, it’s a huge honor for the spirit distillers.

25. You can serve whiskey bourbon in a variety of ways.

These include; neat, over ice, also called “on the rocks,” dilute with water, cola, and cocktails like the Mint Julep, Bourbon smash, Whiskey Sour, and the Manhattan. The spirit also features medicinal applications, and some chefs use it in cooking.


Besides its soothing and relaxing taste, bourbon has a rich history and plays a crucial role in America’s economy. So next time you hit the bar with your friends, order a couple of bottles of bourbon and impress them with your newfound knowledge. 

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