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What’s In a Grain? A Brief History of Whiskey’s Main Ingredient

Photo courtesy The Whiskey Wash

Photo courtesy The Whiskey Wash

“Around the turn of the 20th century, whiskey labeling in the U.S. was virtually unregulated. In 1897, the bottled in bond designation was created by the appropriately-named Bottled-in-Bond Act; whiskeys with this label were guaranteed to be free of additives and aged at least two years. But it gave no specifications on what could be labeled “bourbon,” which meant anything from rye whiskey to blended or rectified juice could be sold as such.

Enter William Howard Taft—yeah, that William Howard Taft. In 1909, the president weighed in on the issue with the so-called Decision on Whiskey, which laid down a host of rules on what whiskey is and isn’t. Among those rules was the requirement that bourbon be made from at least 51% corn, and rye whiskey be made mostly from rye.”

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What’s In a Grain? A Brief History of Whiskey’s Main Ingredient