Carol Peachee explains in this excerpt from her new book, Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage, how Kentucky Bourbon is instilled with multiple traditions and multiple heritages. In celebration of National Bourbon Heritage Month, we’re giving away a copy of Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage to one lucky reader. Read about Bourbon’s heritages and enter to win at the bottom of the page!
Distilling The Bourbon Industry’s Heritage
"Mills, copper works, and cooperages, grains, stills, tail boxes, barrels, and warehouses….these are a few of the industries and their products that make it possible for Bourbon to be Bourbon. Bourbon is not just made of liquid. It is made of wood, grains, copper, stainless steel and human ingenuity and labor. It is made of tradition, and cultural and industrial heritages, and it is made of the evolution of those heritages.
In this book my purpose was to go beyond the industrial heritage of the Bourbon distillery into the cultural and industrial heritage of those industries that made the distillery possible. My experiences exploring abandoned and National Historic Landmark areas of currently operating distilleries had shown me that the network of industries that supported the distillery had a rich and historic heritage of their own. I wanted to explore and visually expose these industries as I had the distillery itself. So I chose the iconic industries, those of the grains, the stills, and the barrels. That is to say, mills, copper works, cooperages, and the warehouse.
The agricultural heritage of distilling as found in grain production, milling and storage goes back before this country was even founded and continued as an integral part of the development of the American frontier. The mill was a staple industry for every community, and as such it was the beginning of distilling as an industry beyond the personal distillery. Millers often ran distilleries as an adjunct business since extra grain was abundant. Today, granaries and mills continue to support the distilling industry in a major way, since without grains there would be no alcohol. The industries that contribute the most iconic symbols of distilling, the still and the barrel, are also rich in practices that have been passed on for generations in communities throughout Kentucky and neighboring states. These industries are just a small fraction of the many industries and suppliers that go into making the Bourbon that ends up in the bottles and glasses of Bourbon lovers. I hope you will enjoy my photographic tour the behind the scenes of these industries and my distillation of the heritages into something we can drink to! Cheers!"
Also don’t forget to check out our other giveaway for National Bourbon Heritage Month, The State of Bourbon: Exploring the Spirit of Kentucky by My Old Kentucky Road Trip’s Cameron M. Ludwick and Blair Thomas Hess. Enter to win a copy of Cameron and Blair’s book here!