While reading an article on bourbon and scotch, this snippet caught my eye:
Whisky, they say, can be made anywhere in the world – even in Australia – with anything. Bourbon, on the other hand, can only be produced in the US and is the most heavily regulated product in the world, Jimmy says.
“Our federal government tells you how you have to make bourbon,” he says. “It has to be made from at least 51 per cent corn, under 80 per cent alcohol and must be put in new charred white-oak oak barrels. No flavour, no colour, no nothing can be added to bourbon. All the colour comes from ageing it in that new charred-oak barrel which can only be used one time.”
Corn* farmers and (especially) barrel makers have managed to lobby the US government for special privilege. Not that we scotch lovers should complain too much. Scotch is aged in second hand bourbon casks** – and the US regulations ensure a regular and secure supply of second hand bourbon barrels.
* my favourite blend Chivas has a corn base that I tasted when I visited the Strathisla distillery – I didn’t finish the taster and the tour guide said that nobody ever did.
** and in second hand sherry casks for some brands.