General Bourbon / Whiskey Terms
Whiskey bottled at the desired proof while aging in the barrel. No water is added before bottling, so these Bourbons are higher proof than others.
Single barrel whiskey:
Whiskey drawn from one barrel that has not been mingled with any other whiskeys.
Small batch whiskey:
A product of mingling select barrels of whiskey that have matured into a specific style,
The grain recipe used to make whiskey.
Bourbon made from a mashbill that contains wheat instead of rye grain.
A whiskey made from a mashbill containining a minimum of 80% corn and, if it is aged at all, must be aged in used or uncharred oak barrels.
Rye whiskey (straight):
A whiskey made from a mash containing at least 51% rye, distilled out at a maximum 160 proof, aged at no more than 125 proof for a minimum of two years in new, charred oak barrels.
If the whiskey is aged for less than four years, its age must be stated on the bottle. No coloring or flavoring may be added to any straight whiskey,
Sour mash is a process used in the distilling industry that uses material from an older batch of mash to start the fermentation of a new batch, analogous to the making of sourdough bread with a starter. The term can also be used as the name of the type of mash used in that process, and a Bourbon made using this process can be referred to as a sour mash Bourbon. “Sour mash” does not refer to the flavor of the Bourbon.
Tennessee Whiskey and the Lincoln County Process
The Lincoln County Process is a step used in producing almost all Tennessee whiskeys. The whiskey is filtered through, or steeped in, charcoal chips before going into the casks for aging. The process is named for Lincoln County, Tennessee, which was the location of Jack Daniel’s distillery at the time of its establishment, but is no longer used in that county.
The term “Tennessee whiskey” does not actually have a legal definition in the U.S. Federal regulations that define the Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits. The only legal definition of Tennessee whiskey in U.S. federally recognized legislation is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which states only that Tennessee whiskey is “a straight Bourbon Whiskey authorized to be produced only in the State of Tennessee”. This definition is also recognized in the law of Canada, which states that Tennessee whiskey must be “a straight Bourbon Whiskey produced in the State of Tennessee”. None of these regulations requires the use of the Lincoln County filtering process (or any other filtering process).
Related: The Bourbon Bucket List
On May 13, 2013, the governor of Tennessee signed House Bill 1084, requiring maple charcoal filtering to be used for products produced in the state labeling themselves as “Tennessee whiskey” (with a particular exception tailored to exempt Benjamin Prichard’s) and including the existing requirements for bourbon. As federal law requires statements of origin on labels to be accurate, the Tennessee law effectively gives a firm definition to Tennessee whiskey.