27 CFR § 5.143 - Whisky.

§ 5.143 Whisky.

(a) The class whisky. “Whisky” or “whiskey” is distilled spirits that is an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of any grain distilled at less than 95 percent alcohol by volume (190° proof) having the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky, stored in oak barrels (except that corn whisky need not be so stored), and bottled at not less than 40 percent alcohol by volume (80° proof), and also includes mixtures of such distillates for which no specific standards of identity are prescribed.

(b) Label designations. The word whisky may be spelled as either “whisky” or “whiskey”. The place, State, or region where the whisky was distilled may appear as part of the designation on the label if the distillation and any required aging took place in that location (e.g., “New York Bourbon Whisky” must be distilled and aged in the State of New York); however, blending and bottling need not have taken place in the same place, State, or region. However, if any whisky is made partially from whisky distilled in a country other than that indicated by the type designation, the label must indicate the percentage of such whisky and the country where that whisky was distilled. Additionally, the label of whisky that does not meet one of the standards for specific types of whisky and that is comprised of components distilled in more than one country must contain a statement of composition indicating the country of origin of each component (such as “Whisky - 50% from Japan, 50% from the United States”). The word “bourbon” may not be used to describe any whisky or whisky-based distilled spirits not distilled and aged in the United States. The whiskies defined in paragraphs (c)(2) through (6) and (10) through (14) of this section are distinctive products of the United States and must have the country of origin stated immediately adjacent to the type designation if it is distilled outside of the United States, or the whisky designation must be proceeded by the term “American type” if the country of origin appears elsewhere on the label. For example, “Brazilian Corn Whisky,” “Rye Whisky distilled in Sweden,” and “Blended Whisky - Product of Japan” are statements that meet this country of origin requirement. “Light whisky”, “Blended light whisky”, and “Whisky distilled from bourbon (rye, wheat, malt, rye malt, or other named grain) mash” may only be produced in the United States.

(c) Types of whisky. The following tables set out the designations for whisky. Table 1 sets forth the standards for whisky that are defined based on production, storage, and processing standards, while Table 2 sets forth rules for the types of whisky that are defined as distinctive products of certain foreign countries. For the whiskies listed in Table 1, a domestic whisky may be labeled with the designation listed, when it complies with the production standards in the subsequent columns. The “source” column indicates the source of the grain mash used to make the whisky. The “distillation proof” indicates the allowable distillation proof for that type. The “storage” column indicates the type of packages (barrels) in which the spirits must be stored and limits for the proof of the spirits when entering the packages. The “neutral spirits permitted” column indicates whether neutral spirits may be used in the product in their original state (and not as vehicles for flavoring materials), and if so, how much may be used. The “harmless coloring, flavoring, blending materials permitted” column indicates whether harmless coloring, flavoring, or blending materials, other than neutral spirits in their original form, described in § 5.142, may be used in the product. The use of the word “straight” is a further designation of a type, and is optional.

Table 1 to Paragraph (c) - Types of Whisky and Production, Storage, and Processing Standards

Type Source Distillation proof Storage Neutral spirits
permitted
Allowable coloring, flavoring, blending materials permitted
(1) Whisky, which may be used as the designation for any of the type designations under the class “whisky,” or may be used as the designation if the whisky does not meet one of the type designations but satisfies the class designation Fermented grain mash Less than 190° Oak barrels with no minimum time requirement No Yes.
(2) Bourbon Whisky, Rye Whisky, Wheat Whisky, Malt Whisky, Rye Malt Whisky, or [name of other grain] Whisky Fermented mash of not less than 51%, respectively: Corn, Rye, Wheat, Malted Barley, Malted Rye Grain, [Other grain] 160° or less Charred new oak barrels at 125° or less No Yes, except for bourbon whisky.
(3) Corn Whisky. (Whisky conforming to this standard must be designated as “corn whisky.”) Fermented mash of not less than 80% corn 160° or less Required only if age is claimed on the label. If stored, must be stored at 125° or less in used or uncharred new oak barrels No Yes.
(4) Straight Whisky Fermented mash of less than 51% corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, malted rye [or other] grain. (Includes mixtures of straight whiskies made in the same state.) 160° or less Charred new oak barrels at 125° or less for a minimum of 2 years No No.
(5) Straight Bourbon Whisky, Straight Rye Whisky, Straight Wheat Whisky, Straight Malt Whisky, or Straight Rye Malt Whisky Fermented mash of not less than 51%, respectively: Corn, Rye, Wheat, Malted Barley, Malted Rye Grain 160° or less Charred new oak barrels at 125° or less for a minimum of 2 years No No.
(6) Straight Corn Whisky Fermented mash of not less than 80% corn 160° or less 125° or less in used or uncharred new oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years No No.
(7) Whisky distilled from Bourbon/Rye/Wheat/Malt/Rye Malt/[Name of other grain] mash Fermented mash of not less than 51%, respectively: Corn, Rye, Wheat, Malted Barley, Malted Rye Grain, [Other grain] 160° or less Used oak barrels No Yes.
(8) Light Whisky Fermented grain mash More than 160° Used or uncharred new oak barrels No Yes.
(9) Blended Light Whisky (Light Whisky - a blend) Light whisky blended with less than 20% Straight Whisky on a proof gallon basis Blend Will contain a blend No Yes.
(10) Blended Whisky (Whisky - a blend) At least 20% Straight Whisky on a proof gallon basis plus Whisky or Neutral Spirits alone or in combination 160° or less Will contain a blend of spirits, some stored and some not stored Maximum of 80% on a proof gallon basis Yes.
(11) Blended Bourbon Whisky, Blended Rye Whisky, Blended Wheat Whisky, Blended Malt Whisky, Blended Rye Malt Whisky, Blended Corn Whisky (or Whisky - a blend) At least 51% on a proof gallon basis of: Straight Bourbon, Rye, Wheat, Malt, Rye Malt, or Corn Whisky; the rest comprised of Whisky or Neutral Spirits alone or in combination Blend Will contain a blend of spirits, some stored and some not stored Maximum of 49% on a proof gallon basis Yes.
(12) Blend of Straight Whiskies (Blended Straight Whiskies) Mixture of Straight Whiskies that does not conform to “Straight Whisky” 160° or less Will contain a blend of spirits which were aged at least 2 years No, except as part of a flavor Yes.
(13) Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskies, Blended Straight Rye Whiskies, Blended Straight Wheat Whiskies, Blended Straight Malt Whiskies, Blended Straight Rye Malt Whiskies, Blended Straight Corn Whiskies, (or a blend of straight whiskies) Mixture of Straight Whiskies of the same named type produced in different states or produced in the same state but contains coloring, flavoring or blending material 160° or less Will contain a blend of spirits which were aged at least 2 years No, except as part of a flavor Yes.
(14) Spirit Whisky Mixture of Neutral Spirits and 5% or more on a proof gallon basis of: Whisky or Straight Whisky or a combination of both. The Straight Whisky component must be less than 20% on a proof gallon basis Blend Will contain a blend of spirits, some stored and some not stored Maximum of 95% on a proof gallon basis Yes.

Table 2 to Paragraph (c) - Types of Whisky That Are Distinctive Products

(16) Scotch whisky Whisky which is a distinctive product of Scotland, manufactured in Scotland in compliance with the laws of the United Kingdom regulating the manufacture of Scotch whisky for consumption in the United Kingdom: Provided, That if such product is a mixture of whiskies, such mixture is “blended Scotch whisky” or “Scotch whisky - a blend”.
(17) Irish whisky Whisky which is a distinctive product of Ireland, manufactured either in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland, in compliance with their laws regulating the manufacture of Irish whisky for home consumption: Provided, That if such product is a mixture of whiskies, such mixture is “blended Irish whisky” or “Irish whisky - a blend”.
(18) Canadian whisky Whisky which is a distinctive product of Canada, manufactured in Canada in compliance with the laws of Canada regulating the manufacture of Canadian whisky for consumption in Canada: Provided, That if such product is a mixture of whiskies, such mixture is “blended Canadian whisky” or “Canadian whisky - a blend”.

The following state regulations pages link to this page.