Bourbon Legends

Bourbon Legends
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By LeNell Smothers

Mark Twain once said, "There is no such thing as too much good whiskey." Chances are he was referring specifically to bourbon, a spirit he was known to adore. But what exactly is bourbon whiskey anyway, and what makes it so good?

Federal standards, issued by Congress in 1964, stipulate that bourbon must be a grain mixture made of at least 51 percent corn, produced in the United States, and distilled to no more than 160 proof, with nothing other than water added to the mixture (aside from yeast). It must also be aged in new, charred-oak barrels, among other requirements. The term "straight" bourbon designates whiskey that has been aged at least two years.

Distillers have had tremendous success experimenting with the mashbill (that's fancy distiller talk for "recipe"). Aficionados like to group bourbons into fancy-sounding categories.

Check out the slideshow above to read our guide to the jargon and producers behind bourbon.

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