Bourbon is without a doubt America's Spirit, and more than 90% of it is made in Kentucky. But that wasn't always the case. Prior to Prohibition, Bourbon was produced in many states — and now, almost 100 years later, other states are beginning to produce it again.
States Producing Bourbon
States like Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and New York were among some of the first to start coming back, and now the next wave is starting to bring unique and tasty products to the market. In fact, Redwood Empire, who is blending their whiskey made in California with whiskey made at MGP in Indiana, was just named best under $35 whiskey in our store (The Lost Monarch blend).
Not only are offerings showing up from new states, but those states are also trying to get the Federal Government to recognize their states' unique styles of Bourbon as being specific to them. Tennessee has already done so, getting Tennessee Whiskey recognized as its own style. It follows all the rules of Bourbon, but also requires it to be filtered through charcoal. This is known as The Lincoln County Process.
Most states are requiring that the whiskey is made with ingredients that are farmed from within their state. They also tend to use oak from their individual states. This is what New York has done with the Empire Rye designation.
Since these “Craft” Distilleries are very young, with some being opened as recently as 2015, they don’t have rick houses full of old stock. In fact, most of what they are releasing tends to be around 2 years old. Yet for such young releases, these distilleries are getting great color out of their offerings and are coaxing out some great depths of flavor. This means that as these distilleries get more and more stock aging, and older product starts to get to the market, the future is going to get a lot more interesting for Bourbon drinkers. That being said, do not sleep on the offerings that are currently available. There are some absolute gems out there, and we are constantly searching them out to share with you.
Where Was My Whiskey Made?
In addition to these distilleries, there are some great products that come from other states. Some, like Redwood Empire and High West, are buying whiskey from states such as Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana and then blending it with their own distillate. Others are buying whiskey from those states, then bringing it back to their own state to age it there, while still others are buying it fully aged, then bringing it to another state to be bottled.
None of these factors qualify or disqualify a whiskey as being good. If you are curious as to where your whiskey comes from, The Pure Food and Drug act of 1906 does ensure a bit of transparency in labeling. What you want to look for on any whiskey label are the words “distilled in....” This will tell you which state the whiskey was made in. It wont tell you which distillery, but it will at least give you an idea. The words “produced by,” “blended by,” or “bottled by” will almost certainly mean that the whiskey was made somewhere else. Remember, brands and distilleries are 2 different entities, they just occasionally come from the same place.
Our (Non-Kentucky) Bourbon Recommendations
What we have here are a few Bourbons that are distilled, aged, and bottled in "other" states that you should definitely try.
Driftless Glen Bourbon from Wisconsin