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.”
A Daviess County restaurant and bar is on a quest to offer the world's largest selection of bourbons.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports Spirits at The Miller House in downtown Owensboro currently has at least 200 types of bourbon in stock on a daily basis. That's double what it had a year ago.
General manager Aaron King said that number puts it among bars with the largest selection of bourbons in stock. He said there are about 250 different bourbons.
"There are bars that claim they have 120 bourbons and say that's the largest collection and there are bars that say they have 250 bourbons," King said. "But when you go there, they aren't all in stock."
One of the world's most famous bourbons won't get watered down after all.
Maker's Mark announced Sunday in a Facebook post that the company is reversing course and will not change the alcohol by volume in its whiskey.
"(We) are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning," the company said in the Facebook message signed by Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels, and his father, Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels.
A representative from Maker's Mark told WKU Public Radio that the company's website crashed at one point Sunday due to the massive amount of interest in Maker's decision to reverse course and maintain its current alcohol by volume.
The representative said the company was able to get the website back up and running later Sunday afternoon.
The decision to change the alcohol content of their product led to a backlash by many bourbon lovers, who flooded the Loretto, Ky., distillery with negative comments. Maker's Mark officials said the lower alcohol by volume wouldn't impact the bourbon's flavor, but that wasn't enough to quell the controversy.
Here is a copy of the Facebook message posted by Maker's Mark Sunday: