Brandy Rand

Thirsty Writer, Libations Marketer

Every Bourbon Has a Story

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month and my latest story in Beverage Media talks about the authenticity behind many of the leading brands and families that have proudly distilled America’s native spirit for centuries. The article was inspired by my trip to Kentucky this past April. I was fortunate to be at the Brown Hotel in Louisville where five iconic distillers gathered to tell their bourbon stories as part of an acclaimed live stage and radio show called The Moth: Bill Samuels Jr. (Maker’s Mark), Jim Rutledge (Four Roses), Lincoln Henderson (formerly of Brown-Forman and now Angel’s Envy), Fred Noe (Jim Beam), and Jimmy Russell (Wild Turkey).

Though many of us in the industry may have had the opportunity to meet these men, either at a distillery or as part of an in-market launch or tasting – there’s something profound when they’re all gathered together, decades of bourbon history and passion all channeled in one room. And for many of them, becoming a bourbon legend took some tough love, along with trial and error. Hearing their stories got me thinking about how very few spirit brands – let alone entire categories – there are today who still have a family member part of making the liquid and selling the brand.

As a primer for those learning to love bourbon (or try some new brands), I also break down the three basic mash bill styles along with a short brand historical profile. You can read the full print article here or view online.

And to test your bourbon knowledge, here are 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Bourbon:

  1. Kentucky residents drink more bourbon than any other state at 181 cases per 1,000 adults.
  2. Evan Williams was Kentucky’s first commercial distiller, rolling out his inaugural barrel in 1783.
  3. Though all bourbon must be aged, there is no minimum aging requirement; straight bourbon whiskey must be aged at least two years.
  4. In 1964, congress declared bourbon the official distilled spirit of the United States.
  5. Kentucky produces 95% of the world’s bourbon supply.
  6. It is said Reverend Elijah Craig was the first person to char the inside of whiskey barrels at his distillery in 1789, earning him the title “The Father of Bourbon.”
  7. Before Prohibition there were over 2,000 distilleries in Kentucky; now there are about 10.
  8. Bardstown, not Louisville, is considered Kentucky’s main distilling center and called “The Bourbon Capital of the World.”
  9. Prior to 1840, bourbon was called “Old Bourbon Country Whiskey.”
  10. In 2012, one million barrels of bourbon were produced in Kentucky, the highest number since 1973 when vodka sales surpassed bourbon.
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This entry was posted on September 3, 2013 by in Beverage Media, MA Beverage Business, Retail, whiskey.
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