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Kentucky: A road trip through the state - Part 16 - Orlando / Florida Guide

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Kentucky – a road trip through the state:- part 16

Over the next three parts of this article I have tried to cover some of the more important things that have happened which have affected the way the Bourbon industry has grown and matured, just like the product itself.

It is likely that the earliest stills came with the first settlers to the area, and this would have been in Harrodsburg in 1774. The early stills as you will see in some of the photos are very simple and just consist of a copper pot, a goose neck, and a copper cooling coil.

In 1790 the new U. S. government decided that something needed to be done to reduce the amount of debt that accumulated because of the Revolutionary War. At that time the combined state, foreign and domestic war debts which amounted to about $80 million. When faced with this situation they decided to do what most governments do, put a tax on something that lots of people use. In this case it was alcohol which up to this point had been free of taxes. This has still not been totally accepted by some of the small communities where small stills produce local moonshine.

The next big event in this sequence would probably be the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase was the best property deal ever made. The U. S purchased Louisiana and the entire Mid-West up to the Canadian border from the French for $15M. As this included the Mississippi river it opened up the markets for trade in South. Whiskey could now be shipped downstream from Kentucky on flatboats making distribution much easier. There initial destination was New Orleans but from there ships opened the market even further.

In 1807 Robert Fulton built the first steamboat and four years later in 1811 the first one arrived in Louisville. The use of this new transport system enabled the barrels to be moved in higher volume and greater speed to their buyers.

The Carpenter family’s distillery was operated in Casey County. However after her husband’s death in 1818 Catherine Carpenter decided that she would continue operating the distillery on her own. She was the first person to record her recipe for sour mash and sweet mash so that it could be past to future generations.

There are many claims about when the term “Bourbon” was first used to describe the whiskey that was produced. The earliest claim that can be verified is in 1821 and was printed in the Western Citizen Newspaper which was produced in Bourbon County. It was an advertisement for the sale of a product produced by the Stout and Adams Company. The headline for the advertisement was “Bourbon Whiskey by the barrel or keg”.

Continued in part 17

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