The name 'Bourbon' & other points of interest
Dating back 400 years, American Whiskey established itself as an important factor in the economic development, and cultural shaping in the history of the United States. It all started when English colonist George Thorpe filtered the first-ever batch of corn whiskey in Virginia. The founding father of our great nation, George Washington, continued this tradition of distilling and operated the largest whiskey distillery in Virginia, in the nation’s early years.
It is widely believed that Elijah Craig is the Father of Bourbon. In 1789, Craig concocted bourbon by maturing the existing corn whiskey, or moonshine, in oak barrels. Popular as this theory is, many argue that bourbon was not invented by any one person, and instead evolved over time.
With the victory over England, the are between Indiana and Kentucky was named Bourbon in gratitude to the French Royal family (1579-1792) for their help. At the time, whiskey barrels would be stamped with the region of origin and casks with “Bourbon” on them became noted for their quality. Even though America’s distilling heritage started before the nation was founded, bourbon was declared as a unique product of the United States in an act of Congress in 1964 passed a resolution clarifying the conditions of whiskey being labeled “Bourbon.”
There are many key figures in the history of Bourbon, some fact and many legends. We know that a Scotsman, Dr. James Crow, a distiller, insisted on aging his whiskey in charred new oak casks, which which brought a unique smooth taste to the whiskey. Crow documented each distilling process and as a result was able to produce a consistent quality bourbon. This technique of distilling became widely used in the industry.
In the 1870’s, druggist George Gavin Brown was the first to sell bourbon in sealed bottled. Whiskey from a barrel, placed in your own container as was the norm, could easily be diluted or mixed. Brown’s whiskey was labeled Old Forester.
In 2007, a resolution was passed by the U.S. Senate, declaring September as National Bourbon Heritage Month. Every year, bourbon enthusiasts come together to appreciate the history, craftsmanship, and milestones of the bourbon industry.
In 2019, more than 26 million cases of American were sold world-wide.
So enjoy a good Bourbon this month remembering the Americans involved in the creation of this uniquely American whiskey.