studyin’ Cities, learnin’ Bourbon

Lemme tell you sump’n about Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

In my US Cities class, I am doing a project on the town, i mean city, of Frankfort, Kentucky (that’s the capital didn’t you know?). Part of my research involved a trip to Greens where I discovered that not one or 2 but about HALF of all the Bourbon on their aisle was from the Frankfort micropolitan area, and Woodford Reserve (that’s the O-ficial Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby) is from just beyond the Franklin County line in nearby Versailles. This little part of bluegrass country is also the heart of Kentucky Bourbon for a another reason, I guess you could say it’s the birthplace of it because it was Frankfort resident, distiller, and friend of politicians (as well as himself being Mayor at one point), Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr, succeeded in getting the Bottled in Bond Act passed which ordained that Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is well, what it is. This, of course, insured the future of a significant part of the region’s economy.

That is, until Prohibition hit.

Above is the first barrel of Old Taylor after prohibition was lifted in 1933, you know they were happy. The distilleries put people back to work, from laborers at the plant to saloons, inns, and policemen. At one distillery, 200 locals were immediately employed with more to be added when the bourbon started to be churned out, this, in the midst of the Depression. Must have been something.

A few notes on the regulations: Bourbon Whiskey is considered a “distinctive product of the United States” and no other country has the authority to call their whiskey Bourbon. Straight means that the whiskey must contain at least 51% of the identified grain, in the case of Bourbon this must be 51% corn. Bourbon must also be aged in NEW, charred American white oak barrels and there can be no additives for color or flavor. More here.

All this information did of course, require some special research methods:

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