How To Figure Out Where Your Bourbon Really Came From

Bourbon is a tasty and versatile spirit, especially during the fall months. Perfect for everything from making a classic whiskey sour to topping a savory glazed salmon, it is a handy staple to keep on hand in your kitchen or bar. That being said, deciding which bottle to buy can be confusing. For example, some brands may advertise themselves as a Kentucky-style bourbon, but was the spirit in the bottle actually made there? You can find the truth by reading the label and looking for certain keywords.

Alcoholic beverages are fairly tightly regulated in the United States. Among these regulations are requirements regarding what information must be listed on a liquor bottle's label. Spirits must directly state where and by whom they were bottled or produced. This is where a sharp eye comes into play. Terms like "bottled by" and "packed by" indicate where the bourbon was put into a bottle, whereas terms like "distilled by" and "produced by" indicate where the bourbon itself was actually made. Sometimes, a bottle will be distilled and bottled in the same place, but not always, so ensure there is some specification that the bourbon was distilled in the desired location.

Where the best bourbon is made

There are no regional restrictions to where bourbon can be made in the United States, but much like wine, the location where a bottle of bourbon is produced can impact its flavor and overall quality. For example, many believe the taste and smoothness of the water used to produce Kentucky bourbon is superior to that found elsewhere. You may also have a preference if you want to support a local distillery in your town or if you want to select a bourbon that you feel comes from a highly authentic area.

While Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon, making it the best distilling location for those seeking the most traditional take on this spirit, there are many other states that bring something special to the production process. Tennessee and Wyoming both have sterling reputations for their bourbon, and places like Texas and California are also forging a name for themselves by having their own unique takes on bourbon. Still not sure what to buy? Check out our ranking of the 25 best bourbon brands.