They say necessity is the mother of invention, and Bourbon is no exception.
Weary Kentucky settlers—daunted by the task of getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains—put their heads together and landed upon an inspired solution. Converting corn and other grains to bourbon not only made the goods easy to transport and prevented excess grain from spoiling, but it provided settlers a welcome diversion from the rough and often tedious life on the frontier.
Established in 1785, Bourbon County is one of Kentucky’s oldest counties. As an early hub of the whiskey trade, farmers shipped whiskey in oak barrels stamped from Bourbon County down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, all the way to New Orleans. The long trip aged the whiskey, while the oak wood lent it a distinct mellow flavor and amber color. As whiskey from Bourbon County grew in popularity, the liquor became known simply as “Bourbon”.
In 1964, Congress officially recognized Bourbon’s place in America’s history, and its future, by declaring it a distinctive product of the United States. Or, as we like to say, “America’s Official Native Spirit.” Today, Kentuckians continue the time-honored tradition of distilling Bourbon, perfecting the craft their ancestors developed centuries ago.