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Whiskey Guide


You’ll find a variety of bourbon barrels to play with in our Make My Whiskey builder. And if  you are going to make your own bourbon with us, we want you to understand better what you’re making. So what exactly is a Bourbon?

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Let’s look at what distinguishes bourbon from other whiskies. 

Bourbon is an American whiskey distilled from a mash made primarily of corn. For a whiskey to be classified as bourbon, it must be made from at least 51% corn. The rest of the grains can be considered flavoring grains or secondary grains and up to the distiller’s discretion. 

All bourbon is made in the USA, with approximately 95% of it being made in Kentucky alone. For a whiskey to be considered straight bourbon, like ours, it must be barrel-aged in new, charred oak barrels for at least two years. The whiskey cannot enter the barrel at higher than 125 proof or less than 80 proof, and nothing else can be added other than water to lessen the proof when necessary. While other whiskies may have additional flavors and colors, straight bourbon must be presented in its original form. It must also carry an age statement if it’s under four years old, so it is safe to assume that a Straight Bourbon Whiskey product without an age statement is over four years old.

Understanding the mash bill is helpful when making your own bourbon as the ratio of corn to other ingredients plays an important role in the resulting flavor profile. Our Pure Bourbon, for example, is 99% corn which results in beautiful, sugary notes. More on our Pure Bourbon here. The secondary varieties of grains are what make up the popular variety of bourbons you will find, like high rye bourbons and wheated bourbons.

The Flavors and Aromas of Bourbon

One of the things that make whiskey so interesting is the variety of flavors and aromas that give each one its own character. Just like bread, it’s a reflection of its grain components. 

Bourbon is no different. It’s known for its sweetness that comes primarily from corn. It’s typically thought of as being flavorful and robust, thanks to its use of new American charred oak during maturation which lend to unmistakable vanilla and baking spices flavor notes.

Some typical flavors and aromas you’ll find in various bourbons are:

  • Sweeter aromatic flavors, like vanilla, honey, butterscotch, and caramel (Especially in high-corn bourbon)
  • Wood aromas and flavors like oak, pine cedar, pecans, and almonds
  • Floral and fruit flavors including pear, apple, dark and dried fruits (raisins, dates, figs), citrus, and rose
  • Spice flavors such as clove, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and tobacco leaf 
  • Flavors of grains, such as corn, rye, and malt

The fun part? At Designer Dram, you have control on what you’d like your bourbon to taste like. Whether you go high-corn, or choose a variety of grains, the final flavor profile is in your hands. “What is a bourbon?”, really becomes “what is your bourbon?”.

For insights into our barrels, you can check out our blogs on our Pure Bourbon, Rye Bourbon, Wheated, Barley Rye and Pure Rye {hyperlink}. We have also created a guide to blending to assist you with the creation of your perfect whiskey.

Once you are ready to create your perfect whiskey blend, visit our whiskey builder to use our premium, aged barrels to make the perfect whiskey for your palate. Once you have created it, you can select your preferred alcohol content and create your unique label for your whiskey.

We have also created a palate test, where you can input your favorite whiskey flavors and let our algorithm determine your ideal barrel selection. If you know your favorite whiskey mash bill, you can also use our mash bill creator to select your barrels.

Also, if you need any assistance in creating your Designer Dram whiskey blend, please feel free to connect with our team at and we will be happy to assist.

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