Why is blending bourbon taboo? (And why don’t we care?)

In most of the world’s whiskey-loving nations (including Ireland, Scotland, and Japan), blending is considered high art on par with distilling. But not so in America.

Bourbon is more narrowly defined from a legal/regulatory standpoint than just about any other spirit in the world. Of course we take a lot of national pride in our favorite native spirit but the need for regulation also arose from a 19th century backlash against unethical producers. The bottled-in-bond act of 1897 helped turn bourbon into an “honest spirit” where American consumers could feel secure in their purchase and know that it was safe to drink. 

“Purity” has been a central component to American whiskey culture ever since and blending has never been widely accepted (even though there’s nothing in the legal definition of bourbon that prevents it).

Unspoken rules exist to be challenged and taste buds don’t lie. If some bourbon purists want to look down their noses at us because we choose to do something the industry has not widely accepted, that’s OK. Even if they don’t buy our product in stores, they prefer us over their favorite traditional premium bourbons time and again in blind tastings. 

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