Saturday, May 2, 2009

Southern Souvenirs: Day 2 - Bourbon

Bourbon is an American whiskey made from corn and named for Bourbon County, Kentucky where it was first produced. Most bourbon is still made in Kentucky today. Although bourbon has been made in Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia, it is estimated that 95% of the world's bourbon is distilled and aged in Kentucky. Bardstown, Kentucky, is called the Bourbon Capital of the World and is home to the annual Bourbon Festival in September.

Because there is not a very well-documented history of bourbon, there are many conflicting legends. Some credit the invention of bourbon to a pioneering Baptist minister and distiller named Elijah Craig. who is said to also be the first to age the distillation in charred oak casks, "a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique taste." In Bourbon County, Kentucky, an early distiller, named Jacob Spears, is credited with being the first to label his product "Bourbon whiskey." Is is likely that there is no one true "inventor" of bourbon, but the stories are fun to share.

My favorite drink happens to be a mint julep, but when that isn't available, I love a good bourbon and diet Coke, preferrably Maker's Mark (made in Loretto, Kentucky) or Jack Daniels (made in Lynchburg, Tennessee).

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