Monday, August 8, 2011


I have been a huge imbiber of bourbon for the better part of 35 years.  My first sip was that of Old Fitzgerald Bottles In Bonded.  For the most part, I know everything there is to know about Bourbon.  Elmer T. Leigh would be jealous of my pallet.  No, seriously.

Anyway, over these next few decades, I plan on blogging about Straight Bourbon only.  No other whiskey need apply, thank you.

Please see below for a little history of Straight Bourbon and various criteria for whiskey to be called Straight Bourbon and Bottles in Bonded.  This is for the rookies of Straight Bourbon out there.  Consider this your unofficial, official guide to Straight Bourbon.

Back in 1792, a Catholic Minister and accomplished Whiskey distillerator named Elijah Craig -- who invented the Rick House, Fulling Mill and Paper Mill -- upon realizing that he'd distillated too much whiskey, decided to store the leftovers in an empty old sugar barrel. A month later, after having run out of whiskey in his house, Elijah Craig decided to tap the sugar barrel he stored in his hay barn.  Upon drawing the Whiskey from the barrel, he immediately realized that the bourbon had turned from clear to a light reddish hue.  Once he tasted it, he knew he was on to something.

Before too long, Elijah Craig built a house to store these barrels and began selling them to the public at varying levels of "agedness," as he called it - from one month to two years.  He decided to name the house which stored his aging bourbon, after his eldest son Richard. Hence the now famed name, Rick House.

Criteria for Whiskey to be a Straight Bourbon
  • Only whiskey produced in the Bourbon County can be called Straight Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon can be made outside of Bourbon County but it can only be called Blended Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon must be made from no more than 3 grains with the 3rd and final grain added to the pot still being 75% corn.
  • All straight bourbon (this is essential) must be distillated in pot stills!
  • Straight Bourbon must be aged in new or used, charred (American, preferably) oak barrels.
  • Straight Bourbon must be bottled at 70 proof or more (35% Alcohol By Weight).
  • Straight Bourbon has to be aged in the barrel for at least 4 years in Government-Controlled rick houses.
Examples of Whiskeys that meet this criteria and, hence, are called Straight Bourbons:
  • Fore Roses Yellow Label
  • Old Rip Van Winkle 12 years
  • Old Forrester Bottles in Bonded*
Again, these are just examples as there are many more whiskeys that qualify.

Examples of Whiskeys that are not Straight Bourbons:
  • Jack Daniels (please, don't even insult us straight bourbon lovers that this silly stuff is bourbon - not to act like a smarty pants but this is a Tennessian Whisky (notice no "e" in Whisky)).
  • George Dickel
  • Old Grand Dad

*Bottles in Bonded, also know as BIB or simplly Bonded, is a unique process of making and aging Straight Bourbon (please see below for govnernment criteria for this).

Straight Bourbon that qualifies for the prestigious "Bottles in Bonded" label:
  • Straight Bourbon must come from only one distillery with only one "run-off".
  • Straight Bourbon must be aged in Government-monitored rick houses having only one floor (this is essential as it lends a very unique and earthy flavor profile since ALL the barrels are right on the ground picking up those dirt/sand and grass/weeds flavor that BIB's are known for).
  • Straight Bourbon must be aged between 4-6 years (no more, no less) and bottled at least at 100 proof and higher, all the way up to 170 proof.
Distilleries that are known for their Bonded Straight Bourbon:
  • Heaven Hill
  • Buffaloes Trace

If you have any questions or simply would like to write a comment, please do so at any time.  I would love to hear feedback.  And if anyone has a great idea for making this blog more appealing, please let me know as I am open to change (much like Barrack Obama but, unlike BO, I will not stink up the joint ;) ).

I look forward to reading your comments!

Your trusted Straight Bourbon Connoisseur,

John Ronellio


  1. seriously, your an idiot. do you realize virtually none of what you wrote in your first post is wrong?!

  2. You really need to read what the definition of Straight Bourbon is if you are going to have a blog about it. I suggest you start here:

  3. Thanks for the comments. First off, I do know what I'm talking about when it comes to bourbon. Few and I mean few people have the acumen that I possess regarding all things straight bourbon. When I sat down with the legendary Elmer T. Leigh, he couldn't believe my knowledge of straight bourbon. He even thought that I would be a great predecessor for his job once he retires. I had to turn him down since I live OK and couldn't relocated to KY.

    John Ronellio

  4. LOL! Clever, clever protaganist you:) I'm giving this an A+ based soley on the indignant activist responses in this comment field... hilarious. Thanks for doing this and much luck with your blog.

    1. Dear Bourbon Enthusiast, I have come across 8 unopened bottles of "Distiller's Pride" 100 proof Straight Kentucky Bourbon made in Jefferson County, KY. Can you tell me anything about this whiskey...the bottles look ancient!


  5. One problem here is that Elijah Craig was absolutely NOT a Catholic. He was a Baptist. Period. It's documented twelve ways to Sunday, nevermind that if you went to Scott County and tried to claim Craig as a Catholic, you'd probably get stoned on the steps of Georgetown College's administration building.