Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sku's Q&A: Single Malt Whiskey vs. Straight Whiskey

Here's a question I recently received that I thought was worth sharing:

Sku, I know that a single malt Scotch has to come from just one distillery or else it's a blend, but what about an American "straight whiskey"? Does a straight bourbon or rye have to come from just one distillery as well?

That's a great question. Because the definition of single malt is more well known to whiskey consumers, I think many people assume that straight bourbons and ryes also must come from a single distillery, but that is not the case. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulations, straight whiskey can include "mixtures of straight whiskies of the same type produced in the same State." 27 C.F.R. § 5.22(b)(1)(iii).

Therefore, you can mix bourbons from two different distilleries together and still call it "straight bourbon" as long as both bourbons were distilled in the same state. Indeed, that is the case with Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select, which includes bourbon distilled at the Brown-Forman distillery in Shively, Kentucky and the Woodford Reserve distillery in Versailles, Kentucky.

If a bottler combines straight whiskeys from different states, they have to call it a "blend of straight whiskeys." 27 C.F.R. § 5.22(b)(5).

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