Kevin's interview with Michael Veach, author of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage
It's a golden era for Kentucky's signature spirit. Bourbon has never been more popular in the U.S. or throughout the world. Bourbon's colorful history is shrouded in mystery, with a lot of tall tales and legends popping up throughout the years.
Michael Veach put bourbon under the microscope and put his skills as an historian to work in his new book, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage. Veach is the associate curator of special collections at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville.
He spoke to WKU Public Radio's Kevin Willis about how the term "bourbon" first became applied to Kentucky whiskey, where the idea of charring barrels came from, and who we should thank for the current popularity of bourbon:
There are a lot of legends surrounding bourbon that you have to debunk as an historian looking into the origins of Kentucky’s famous whiskey. One of those legends is that bourbon is named after Bourbon County, Kentucky. What did you find out?
“You know, I would love to have been able to prove that bourbon was named after Bourbon County, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized I just couldn’t do that.”
Kevin's audio story with Wes Berry, Kentucky barbeque aficionado
When it’s lunch time at the Smokey Pig barbeque restaurant in Bowling Green, be prepared to wait in line. This place opens at 10:30 a.m., and within an hour on a recent Tuesday, almost every table was taken and every seat claimed. I came to the Smokey Pig today to meet with a man who claims to be afflicted with something he calls H.E.B.D--Hyper Enthusiastic Barbeque Disorder.
Wes Berry, the self-diagnosed victim of H.E.B.D is also a Ph.D-holding Professor of English at WKU. And he has just authored a book—not about fine literature or poetry—but about his true passion: barbeque. And more specifically, the kinds of barbeque one can find in the Bluegrass State.
The Kentucky Barbeque Book is Berry’s love letter to his favorite food and state. The Barren County native says he’s eaten at 168 barbeque restaurants, joints, shacks, festivals, and Catholic church picnics in the commonwealth.
All in the name of good research, of course.
Barbeque: Monroe County Style
The Smokey Pig is the place Wes and I have chosen to talk about Bluegrass State barbeque. I follow Wes’s lead regarding what I order. They say “when in Rome”, and when it comes to barbeque, Wes Berry is Caesar.