On June 14th, National Bourbon Day recognizes the Official Spirit of America.

Like Scotch, Cognac, and some other spirits, Bourbon must meet certain standards and be produced in a specific geographical region to earn its name. Bourbon is a whiskey that can only be called by the word when it is distilled in the United States. For a distiller to legally label their whiskey as “Bourbon,” they must meet specific criteria.

  • The whiskey must be 51 percent corn.
  • The distiller must story the whiskey in new (not aged) charred-oak barrels,
  • They also must distill the whiskey at no more than 160 proof.
  • Finally, distillers must ensure the Bourbon is barreled at 125 proof.

This particular whiskey derives its name from the Kentucky county of the same name. Early settlers established the county in 1785 and were large producers of corn. Back then, once they distilled the corn, they put it in barrels stamped “Old Bourbon,” and shipped them down the Ohio River.

In 1964, a Congressional Resolution designated Bourbon as America’s native spirit. Since then, nowhere else in the world can make a whiskey and call it Bourbon.

Bourbon’s deep roots start with the immigrants who would homestead in Kentucky. With an abundance of corn, these pioneers set their stills to work, producing a whiskey that lives on today. They also put their own stamp on the quality and flavors into their whiskey. From the oak barrels to the rich soils, Bourbon’s character continues to grow throughout the years.

HOW TO USE #NationalBourbonDay

Pour a glass of Bourbon and use #NationalBourbonDay on social media. As you savor the depth of flavor, study up on Bourbon. Watch a documentary or read a book on the history of Bourbon. These will take you back in time and tell you about the people who brought about the drink we know as the Official Spirit of America.

Here are our staff picks to learn about the history of Bourbon:

    • Neat: The Story of Bourbon (2018), written and directed by David Altrogge
    • Straight Up: Kentucky Bourbon (2018), written and directed by Eric Byford
    • The Social History of Bourbon by Gerald Carson
    • Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit by Dane Huckelbridge


National Day Calendar is researching the origins of this spirited holiday.