Tag Archives: distilleries

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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Celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month With These Bourbon Books

Nobody in Kentucky needs a reason to celebrate bourbon more than we already do each day, but if Congress wants to dedicate a whole month to the cause, we certainly won’t object. Thankfully, Congress did just that in 2007 when it declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month.

Over the past decade, bourbon has exploded on the national scene in a big way finally catching up with what Kentuckians knew all along. Here at the University Press of Kentucky, we’ve long been connoisseurs of the historic spirit so we’ve compiled a list books that should interest everyone from the bourbon historian to the home cook. Enjoy and read responsibly!


Bourbon New Books on America's Native Spiritmanhattan.final.inddThe Manhattan Cocktail covers everything that the aficionado needs to know about the classic cocktail through an examination of its history and ingredients. Author Albert W. A. Schmid dispels several persistent myths, including the tale that the Manhattan was created in 1874 by bartenders at New York City’s Manhattan Club to honor the newly elected Governor Samuel Jones Tilden at Lady Randolph Churchill’s request. Schmid also explores the places and people that have contributed to the popularity of the drink and inspired its lore, including J. P. Morgan, who enjoyed a Manhattan every day at the end of trading on Wall Street.


PeacheeCvCompF.inddIn The Birth of Bourbon, 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.


If it’s a month-long bourbon tour you’re looking for, this travel guide will not let you down.

Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide

Like wine lovers who dream of traveling to Bordeaux or beer enthusiasts with visions of the breweries of Belgium, bourbon lovers plan their pilgrimages to Kentucky’s bourbon country. And what a country it is! Some of the most famous distilleries are tucked away in the scenic countryside of the Bluegrass region, stretching between Louisville, Bardstown, and Lexington. Locals and tourists alike seek out the finest flavors of Kentucky as interest in America’s only native spirit continues to grow.

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Happy Bourbon Heritage Month!

September is finally here, which means it’s Bourbon Heritage Month, a national celebration of America’s native spirit! We’ll also be raising our glasses next weekend at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

Kentucky Bourbon Festival


Bourbon New Books on America's Native Spirit

manhattan.final.inddThe Manhattan Cocktail covers everything that the aficionado needs to know about the classic cocktail through an examination of its history and ingredients. Author Albert W. A. Schmid dispels several persistent myths, including the tale that the Manhattan was created in 1874 by bartenders at New York City’s Manhattan Club to honor the newly elected Governor Samuel Jones Tilden at Lady Randolph Churchill’s request. Schmid also explores the places and people that have contributed to the popularity of the drink and inspired its lore, including J. P. Morgan, who enjoyed a Manhattan every day at the end of trading on Wall Street.


PeacheeCvCompF.inddIn The Birth of Bourbon, 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.

 

Kentucky Travels: Buffalo Trace Distillery

If you’re from Kentucky then I’m sure you’ve heard the name Bourbon Country before. While Kentucky is known for basketball, horses, and fried chicken; bourbon also tops this list as a favorite among the 21+ crowd, providing a popular tourist attraction for locals and non-locals. Whether you’re travelling near or far for spring break, Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries are a great place to check out.Reigler_Cover_HI

Kentucky is home to several bourbon distilleries, employing over 3,000 people and generating $3 billion in gross state product. It’s no wonder bourbon is so important to Kentuckians, but how much do we really know about bourbon production or the history of the distilleries in Kentucky? Susan Reigler and Pam Spaulding’s book Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide details some very important information on bourbon and the distilleries located here in the Bluegrass state. One, very notable distillery mentioned in this book is called Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Located in Frankfort, Kentucky, Buffalo Trace is just a short 40-45 minute drive from Lexington. With over 200 industry awards, Buffalo Trace has certainly outperformed all other distilleries in the area. They offer several different tours: The Trace Tour, The Post-Prohibition Tour, The Hard-Hat Tour, and The Ghost Tour. (Each tour is also complimentary, so you really have no excuse to not visit!) Each of these tours are unique and offer a variety of interesting information on Kentucky’s first bourbon distilling industry. With over 100 buildings and 130 acres of land, you can’t possibly explore it all at once. No matter when you visit you can always come back and learn something new each time. Whether you want to learn about the Buffalo Trace’s rich history, view the beautiful architecture, or visit a haunted mansion – Buffalo Trace is the right place for you.


If you want to learn more about these wonderful distilleries located in Kentucky, pick up a copy of Reigler and Spaulding’s book Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide. This book includes nearly 150 full-color photographs and a bourbon glossary, following the Urban Bourbon Trail and the localities surrounding it. Reigler and Spaulding also share their favorite restaurants, lodging areas, attractions, and shopping centers nearby. This book is essential to those who are looking for something fun to do on vacation, or for the locals who just want to spend a day exploring.

Here are a few pictures one of our interns, Nicole, took from a visit this past week. We’d love to see your travel pics, tweet us them @KentuckyPress!

Tell us in the comments below, what are you doing over spring/summer break?

Kentucky Bourbon Country

If you’re from the state of Kentucky, you know that bourbon is a part of our culture. Whether you’re sipping some Maker’s Mark at a tailgate or savoring a glass of Woodford Reserve at dinner, you’re contributing to Kentucky’s economy by enjoying one of our signature industries.

bourbon tasting

Kentucky, the birthplace of bourbon, produces 95 percent of the world’s supply of America’s only native spirit. According to the Kentucky Distiller’s Association, “There are more barrels of bourbon aging in the Bluegrass than there are people (4.3 million) and horses (242,000) living in the Commonwealth.” That’s a whole lotta bourbon!

KY bourbon

Susan Reigler discusses this and more in her book Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide. Reigler offers essential information and practical advice to anyone considering a trip to the state’s distilleries or to the restaurants and bars on the Urban Bourbon Trail. Featuring more than 150 full-color photographs and a bourbon glossary, the book is organized by region and provides valuable details about the Bluegrass—including attractions near each distillery and notes on restaurants, lodging, shopping, and seasonal events in Kentucky’s beautiful historic towns.

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This book is the perfect gift for not only bourbon-lovers, but also anyone who has a love of Kentucky and its many outstanding qualities. If you’re interested in buying the book, head on over to our website for details.