COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With all the talk of a bourbon lottery by Ohio Liquor Control, we asked our readers, what is your favorite distillery in Central Ohio?

These are the result, in order:

Bourbon or Whiskey? The question really is about where is bourbon made? I lived most of my adult life in Kentucky. There, the tale is only bourbon is made in the Bluegrass State, and anything outside is whiskey.

The debate became super real in the NBC4i newsroom earlier this week when Ohio Liquor Control announced a lottery for people to get an opportunity to purchase high-priced bottles of alcohol.

Let’s start with the legal definition of what “Bourbon Whiskey” actually is.

Here’s the deal. Kentucky makes most of the bourbon in the world. After all, it is the home of Maker’s Mark, Old Forester and Wild Turkey (sometimes referred to as the “Kicking Chicken.”) Besides, the state offers the Bourbon Trail and Louisville offers the Urban Bourbon Trail for tourists to get around the area and sample some of the finest distilleries.

According to the Title 27 of alcohol, tobacco products, and firearms, Chapter I – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Department of the Treasury, Subchapter A – Alcohol, Part 5 – Labeling and advertising of distilled spirits, subpart C- Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, (also known as 27 CFR § 5.22 -The standards of identity:

(B)(1)(i) “Bourbon whisky”, “rye whisky”, “wheat whisky”, “malt whisky”, or “rye malt whisky” is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.

(2) “Whisky distilled from bourbon (rye, wheat, malt, or rye malt) mash” is whisky produced in the United States at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored in used oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type. Whisky conforming to the standard of identity for corn whisky must be designated corn whisky.

Grapes and Grains simplify the criteria for making bourbon.

  • Produced in the United States
  • Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51 percent corn
  • Aged in new, charred oak barrel
  • Distilled to no more than 160 US proof (80 percent alcohol by volume) and bottled at 80 US proof or more (40 percent by volume)

Much to my surprise, there is nothing in the document mentioning the great state of Kentucky. 😔 The reason Kentucky is a bourbon distilling state has more to do with the people who settled there.

According to History.com, most of the people who immigrated there in the 1700s were from Germany, Scotland, and northern sections of Ireland, and they brought with them their knowledge of whiskey-distilling.

Mark that up with when Kentucky was still a part of Virginia and the Virginia Corn Patch and Cabin Rights Act that allowed settlers to claim 400 acres to plant corn. It just so happens corn is the main ingredient for bourbon.