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Homepage > History of Bourbon

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History of Bourbon

The names are as familiar as old friends -- Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Maker's Mark... Why does virtually all bourbon hail from Kentucky region? Because settlers in the 18th and 19th century took what the land would give them -- Rye, wheat, barley, Iron free pure water and corn.

By law, to be labeled a bourbon, it must contain at least 51 percent corn. And all the ingredients end up in the vats, fermenting just a few days under the watchful eye of the master distillers. Eventually, bourbon just as clear as water is poured into new oak barrels that give bourbon its color and its flavor. Bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years in new American oak barrels. Used bourbon barrels are usually shipped to Scotland to mature Scotch whiskies.

It is known that a Baptist Minister, Elijah Craig first introduced bourbon in Georgetown in Kentucky around the late 18th century.

Whiskies were shipped down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans from Bourbon countries. Barrels were stamped "Bourbon" as it came from bourbon countries and that's the name, Bourbon was born. In 1972, Kentucky became a state. Meanwhile Bourbon Country saled down to the size as it is today. It once contained over 30 modern counties.

The first president was also making his own whiskey at his mount vernon estate. (More about George Washington Distillery) With the help of his Scottish plantation manager, George Washington's distilling operation became quite profitable. He made 11,000 gallons of whiskey that was valued almost $7,500, a fair amount of money in the 18th century.

Whisky making was already a popular business a few decades before Washington realized it was profitable. The early settlers began distilling bourbon at Ford Harrod, where now known as Harrodburg in Mercer County, Kentucky. In 1791, government introduced taxes on whiskey in Pennsylvania and whiskey distillers fled to the mountains in Kentucky to escape from the tax collectors.

In every September, right in the heart of bluegrass county where's the Kentucky Bourbon Festival to celebrate the rich heritage of this uniquely American drink. The people of Bardstown have been producing bourbon since 1776. Until about 30 years ago or so, bourbon was the only business in the county.

Bourbon Cocktails | Cooking with Bourbon

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