bourbon

Arts & Culture
3:40 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Kentucky Derby Weekend Means It's Mint Julep Time

The apotheosis of Kentucky's bourbon culture: the mint julep

Kevin speaks with Cole Phelps about the history and proper preparation of the mint julep.

The mint julep stands proud as the beverage known as Kentucky's signature drink. Unless you're new to the area or haven't been paying attention, you know the julep is synonymous with the Kentucky Derby.

What you might not know, however, is that the mint julep's history traces back to a rose water drink in the Middle East.

WKU Public Radio's Kevin Willis in 2010 visited the famous Seelbach Hotel in Louisville to learn the history and proper preparation of the famous drink. Cole Phelps, who at the time served as the head bartender at Max's Bar on the hotel's second floor shared his favorite recipe for drink:

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Business
9:09 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Kentucky Bourbon Production Tops 1 Million in 2012

Bourbon barrels rest inside a warehouse at Woodford Reserve.
Credit Kevin Willis

The amount of bourbon produced by Kentucky distillers has topped 1 million barrels for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Officials with the Kentucky Distillers' Association said Monday that 1,007,703 barrels were filled in 2012. The last time the total went over a million was in 1973 when 1,004,877 barrels were produced.

The group's president, Eric Gregory, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Kentucky's distilleries are experiencing double-digit sales growth and seeing landmark production levels while investing in new facilities.

The group says bourbon production is up more than 120 percent since 1999.

Author Interviews
6:00 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Web Extra: Kentucky Bourbon Book Author Talks Prohibition, Maker's Mark Episode

Bourbon barrels at rest in a warehouse at the Woodford Reserve distillery
Credit Kevin Willis

Michael Veach is a man who knows his bourbon. Not just because he enjoys Kentucky's signature spirit, but because he's also one of the nation's foremost bourbon historians.

Veach is associate curator of special collections at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, and the author of the new book Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Tradition. In his recent interview with WKU Public Radio, Veach told us about the many tall tales he had to debunk surrounding the history of bourbon.

Here are a few web audio extras featuring Veach that we didn't have time to include in the interview we aired this week:

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Author Interviews
11:25 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Kentucky Author Debunks Popular Legends Surrounding Bourbon in New Book

Author Michael Veach, at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville
Credit Kevin Willis

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.”

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Business
9:27 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Honored by National Geographic

Bourbon barrels rest in a warehouse at Woodford Reserve, one of the stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Credit Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s signature spirit is getting some love from a well-respected publication.

National Geographic has designated the Kentucky Bourbon Trail as one of its top 10 "Best Spring Trips."

The Kentucky tourism attraction is showcased along with excursions and festivals in New Zealand, India, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, South Africa and Argentina.

Only three American trips made the top 10.

The Bourbon Trail attracted more than 500,000 visitors in 2012, the first time the tour has broken the half-million mark since its creation in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

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