The Law Offices of Thomas J. Skinner, IV, LLC, is a civil litigation firm in Birmingham, Alabama, serving clients in all State and Federal courts in Alabama.

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The Grumpy Marmot: Bourbon Series, Part 1

The Grumpy Marmot: A multi-part series on Bourbon.

Part 1 – What exactly is Bourbon?

Bourbon is the classic American distilled spirit.  It is also the de facto liquor of the deep South.  To a Southerner, Bourbon is found everywhere from weddings to funerals, holidays, hunting camps and football games.  Bourbon and barbeque sauce are the liquids of the South.

But what exactly is Bourbon?

Under Federal law, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to promulgate regulations regarding the labelling of distilled spirits.  26 U.S. Code § 5301(a)(1).  These regulations govern what constitutes Bourbon whisky (also spelled “whiskey”).  Specifically, these regulations provide that a distilled product labeled as “Bourbon” can only distilled in the United States.  27 C.F.R § 5.22(l).  Further, “’Bourbon whisky’. . . is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn. . . and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.”  27 C.F.R § 5.22(b)(1)(i).  A “straight Bourbon whisky” is Bourbon whisky that has “been stored in the type of oak containers prescribed, for a period of 2 years or more. . . .  No other whiskies may be designated “straight”. “Straight whisky” includes mixtures of straight whiskies of the same type produced in the same State.”  27 C.F.R § 5.22(b)(1)(iii).

Sometimes a Bourbon might be labeled as “Bottled-In-Bond.”  This refers to a whiskey bottled pursuant to the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897.  Prior to this act, the government had no role in what went into the bottle or on the label.  The Bottled-In-Bond Act ensured that any whiskey bearing the name “Bottled-in-Bond” was produced by the same distiller, at the same distillery, during the same distilling season, aged for at least four years, unadulterated (save for pure water for dilution), and bottled at exactly 100 proof.  The label also had to identify the distillery where the whiskey was distilled and bottled.

So, now we’ve laid the law down on what Bourbon is, and the next time you’re in a bar and some self- proclaimed whiskey “expert” is spouting off and running his or her mouth about what is and what isn’t Bourbon, you can correct him – with citations to the law – compliments of The Grumpy Marmot.

Giving Back to the Birmingham Community


The attorneys and staff of the Law Offices of Thomas J. Skinner, IV, do more than simply provide legal services to our clients. We are all firm believers of being actively involved and a part of our community. Each of us is involved in many different activities in addition to law.

TJ Skinner.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps


In addition to his law practice, Mr. Skinner is a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps where he serves as the Chief of Military Justice for the 167th Theater Sustainment Command with the Alabama Army National Guard. In 2013, Major Skinner deployed to Southwest Asia where he served in Kuwait and Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Mr. Skinner regularly speaks to school groups, scout groups and community groups relating to his military service.

In addition, Mr. Skinner is active in his church, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, where he has served as a past president of the St. Francis Xavier Church Pastoral Counsel. Mr. Skinner is active in the community where he has served both as the Cubmaster of Cub Scout pack 63 and an Assistant Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 28 with the Boy Scouts of America. Mr. Skinner is an avid outdoorsmen and conservationist, and he has served as a Board of Director member of SCI of Alabama, Inc., a nonprofit wildlife conservation organization, and he currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Secretary of the Birmingham Chapter and is a member of the State Board of Directors of the Coastal Conservation Association of Alabama, Inc., a conservation organization dedicated to improving the coastal marine waters of Alabama.


Cherokee Wooley is also active in the community. Mrs. Wooley is active at Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood, Alabama, where she serves on both the Staff-Parish Relations Committee and the Strategic Planning Committee. She also teaches adult Sunday school, and she is active with both the children and youth ministry missions of the church. In addition to being an active member of the church, Mrs. Wooley is an active member of the Homewood school system’s Parent Teacher Oranization. Mrs. Wooley has been active with the PTO at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.

Larry Sparks Rotary District 6860, Asst. District Governor


Like Mr. Skinner, Larry Sparks has served our country retiring as Colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in December 2008 with 37 years of total service. Mr. Sparks in an active member in the City of Hoover community where he worked on the committee to form an independent school district, served as president of the PTO of Bluff Park Elementary School, served as president of the Student-Athlete Buccaneer Fund, and coached girls softball for nine year. Mr. Sparks in active in his church, Shades Mountain Baptist Church, and Mr. Sparks is a leading Rotarian in the Hoover Rotary Club where he has served as the past president, Paul Harris Fellow, and board member. He now serves as an Assistant District Governor for Rotary District 6860.


The outside community involvement is not limited to our attorneys. Our paralegal Carla Johnson is a sustainer member of the Junior League of Birmingham, and she is an active member of St. Stephens Episcopal Church.

Courtney Moore CRAL Volunteer


Courtney Moore, our legal secretary and administrative assistant, is also a current member of the Junior League of Birmingham, and she is active with the Cavalier Rescue of Alabama.

We believe in supporting our community, and the firm regularly contributes to the support of a wide range of community events and activities including the Birmingham Zoo, the Linley Heflin Unit Scholarship Fund, Relay for Life, the Ballet Guild of Birmingham, Ducks Unlimited and the Coastal Conservation Association.


Firm Beginnings at 2164 11th Avenue South

The firm was first opened in June 1, 2008, in the Mountain Brook Center on Highway 280 in Birmingham, Alabama. In the early winter of 2012, Mr. Skinner had the opportunity to acquire the firm’s current location at 2164 11th Avenue South. The building was the former Catholic Services Building in the Historic Five Points South district in the City of Birmingham. Mr. Skinner, through his company Lookout Mountain Land & Mineral, LLC, acquired the property which had been vacant for almost a decade.

With the assistance of Thornton Hydinger of Hydinger, Stewart & Chew Commercial Properties, Williams Blackstock Architects, Nancy L. Jernigan, Interior Design and Rives Construction Company, the building was transformed into one of most modern and technologically advanced law firms in the city. When the building was acquired, the interior had been gutted leaving a blank slate for buildout. With all the interior workings of the building exposed, a complete new digital interface was installed throughout the office building. In addition, nonstructural walls were removed and open to allow a spectacular view of the Birmingham city skyline. While impressive during the day, the view is stunning at night. [insert photo]

The entire transformation took approximately four months to complete, and the attorneys, staff and clients of the firm have enjoyed the firm’s convenient location and spectacular views of the Birmingham skyline ever since.

2164 11th Avenue South Building Renovation

Exterior Building Renovation Before & After

Law TJS Front Exterior Before & After

Front Exterior Building Renovation Before & After