Tag Archives: Bourbon Whiskey

The Beauty in Bourbon’s History

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Spirits Tank, George T. Staggs Distillery, Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY.  

Whiskey making has been an integral part of American history since frontier times. Kentucky is home to more barrels of bourbon than people, and ninety-five percent of all of America’s native spirit is produced in the Bluegrass State. In Kentucky, early settlers brought stills to preserve grain, and they soon found that the limestone-filtered water and the unique climate of the scenic Bluegrass region made it an ideal place for the production of barrel-aged liquor. And so, bourbon whiskey was born.

More than two hundred commercial distilleries were operating in Kentucky before Prohibition, but only sixty-one reopened after its repeal in 1933. Though the businesses were gone, most of the buildings remained, unused, slowly deteriorating for decades. Now, thanks in large part to the explosion of interest in craft bourbon, many of these historic buildings are being brought back to life, often as new distilleries. As the popularity of America’s native spirit increases worldwide, many historic distilleries are being renovated, refurbished, and brought back into operation.

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Spears Warehouse, Second Floor, Jacob Spears Distillery, Bourbon County, KY.

In The Birth of Bourbon: A Phorographic Tour of Early Distilleries, award-winning photographer Carol Peachee takes readers on an unforgettable tour of lost distilleries as well as facilities undergoing renewal, such as the famous Old Taylor and James E. Pepper distilleries in Lexington, Kentucky. This beautiful book also includes spaces that well-known brands, including Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace, have preserved as a homage to their rich histories. By using a photography technique called high-dynamic-range imaging (HDR), Peachee captures the vibrant and haunting beauty of the distilleries. HDR photography is a process that layers three or more images taken of the same scene at different shutter speeds. The technique creates a fuller range of luminosity and color and gives the photographs a striking, ethereal quality.

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Knobs and Pipes, J.E. Pepper Distillery, Lexington, KY. 

“Photographed again today,” Peachee explains, “they would look different, which would make some of the images, barely four years old, a relic in their own right.” In 2010, the James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington was the first set of ruins that she photographed. Four years later, the location was repurposed and commercialized.

Just months after Peachee visited the Old Crow Distillery in Millville, the ruins were sold to entrepreneurs who built Castle & Key Distillery, home to Kentucky’s first female Master Distiller Marianne Barnes. Likewise, the Dowling Distilleries warehouse in Burgin was photographed in the process of being torn down. Major buildings at other sites like Buffalo Springs Distillery in Stamping Ground did not survive to be photographed.

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Pillar and Engine, Old Crow Distillery, Woodford County, KY.

As more and more historical distilleries are lost or altered, these images provide an important glimpse of the past and detailed insight on Kentucky’s relationship with bourbon. The Birth of Bourbon is a tour of Kentucky bourbon heritage that might have otherwise been lost if not for Peachee’s determination to save it. The results not only document what remains, but they also showcase the beauty of these sites through a meditation on impermanence, labor, time, presence, and loss.

Carol Peachee is a fine art photographer and cofounder of the Kentucky Women’s Photography Network. She is the winner of the 2010 Elizabeth Fort Duncan Award in photography from the Pennyroyal Art Guild.

 

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A Toast to National Bourbon Heritage Month

September is a most wonderful time—when the weather starts to cool, leaves start to turn, and the world turns its attention to the Commonwealth for National Bourbon Heritage Month! We’ll be celebrating this genteel and genuinely Kentucky holiday with cocktail and food recipes, new books, and a trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails6.inddTo kick things off, enjoy a celebratory tipple of “The Rutledge Rebellion,” created by Jason Start of Martini Italian Bistro in Louisville, representing Four Roses Distillery. “The Rutledge Rebellion” took first prize at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival Mixed Drink Challenge in 2014 in the Bourbon Punch Category. Named for Four Roses master distiller emeritus, Jim Rutledge, “The Rutledge Rebellion” won the honor of being the official cocktail of the 2015 Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

Try your hand at this well-crafted recipe from Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler’s newest book, More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails. Cheers!

The Rutledge Rebellion

Rutledge Rebellion via The Kentucky Standard

The overall winning drink, ‘The Rutledge Rebellion’ (photo by Kacie Goode. Used with permission from The Kentucky Standard.)

1 1/2 ounces Four Roses Small Batch bourbon
1/2 ounce ginger liqueur
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1 ounce apple pureé
(3 apples, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup simple syrup, 1/2               cup water, and 1/2 cup lemon juice—blended and                 strained)
or 1 ounce apple juice
2 ounces dry champagne
1 syringe Bittermens Tiki bitters

Combine ingredients in a pint glass and stir. Fill with ice, garnish with an orange slice and a mint sprig and serve with a straw.

Celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival This Week!

Celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month at the Kentucky Bourbon Fesitval in Bardstown. Photograph by Pam Spaulding

Photo by Pam Spaulding, photographer for KENTUCKY BOURBON COUNTRY

The 22nd annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival kicks off today in Bardstown. And what better way to celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month than in the heart of Kentucky’s bourbon country?

We’ve assembled some of our favorite bourbon titles for a little reading on the rocks. Here’s what you should be reading this month:

Buy the books on KentuckyPress.com:

KENTUCKY BOURBON COUNTRY: The Essential Travel Guide by Susan Reigler, Photographs by Pam Spaulding

THE KENTUCKY BOURBON COCKTAIL BOOK by Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler

THE KENTUCKY MINT JULEP by Joe Nickell

THE OLD FASHIONED: An Essential Guide to the Original Whiskey Cocktail by Albert W. A. Schmid

KENTUCKY MOONSHINE by David W. Maurer

THE KENTUCKY BOURBON COOKBOOK by Albert W. A. Schmid

 KENTUCKY BOURBON WHISKEY: An American Heritage by Michael R. Veach

THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF BOURBON by Gerald Carson

KENTUCKY BOURBON: The Early Years of Whiskey-making by Henry G. Crowgey

How Much Do You Know About Bourbon?

1910With a book dedicated solely to cooking with bourbon, it’s only fitting Albert Schmid, author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, would include a little bit of the history behind this beloved beverage.

Most people believe a Baptist minister, the Reverend Elijah Craig, was the first person to distill bourbon, circa 1789. It was a very convenient legend for the forces trying to repeal Prohibition. After all, how bad can bourbon be if it was invented by a Baptist minister? But, the truth is that no one really knows who invented bourbon. Some of the favorite candidates include Evan Williams, James Ritchie, and Wattie Boone (Daniel’s cousin).

Despite the myth surrounding its origin, in 1964 Congress officially named bourbon America’s native spirit and the beverage became the most regulated whiskey in the world, having to meet strict criteria in order to be labeled “bourbon.” The requirements for bourbon are these:

  • Bourbon must be made from at least 51 percent corn mixed with barley and with rye or wheat or both. Many times bourbon has an even higher percentage of corn.
  • Bourbon must be aged in charred new oak barrels.
  • Only pure water may be added to bourbon.
  • Bourbon must not exceed 160 proof off the still or 125 proof going into the barrel.

Stay tuned for bourbon food and cocktail recipes and don’t forget to sign up for our weekly giveaway of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook by Friday, May 17 at 1 pm!

But, is it BOURBON?

Officially designated a “distinctive product of the United States” by Congress in 1964 (still the only spirit to enjoy this classification), bourbon must meet a stringent sets of requirements in order to be called “Bourbon”. If the label on your favorite brand says “Bourbon”, it meets all of these requirements:

All images are property of Pam Spaulding and may not be used or reproduced without permission.

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