Savoring Bourbon, and Its Storied History, in Northern Kentucky
By Theodora E. Kocis
Photo by John Moore, CC 2.0
When someone says bourbon, a few things occur to you. They say it’s best aged for several years, as it’s supposed to be, and then it’s good when it “comes round.” They say it’s a mixture of grains, distilled with molasses, and made from a few grains, and this blend has a history of its own.
The taste of bourbon is a mystery to all, and they say that’s its allure, and it’s because bourbon is the oldest distilled liquor in the world. It’s also a mystery to many: What is that magic combination of grains that make it? The answer lies in a little town in the middle of Kentucky, where there’s a bourbon distillery named after a town called Lexington (in Kentucky, after the capital of the state), a town of more than three thousand people and an old distillery built in 1800, with more than five hundred years of history, and a few secrets.
Bourbon Distillery & Barreling
The distillery’s earliest history goes back more than four hundred years, to the year 1774. That might seem a long time considering that “Kentucky” isn’t mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, but there once was “Kentucky,” which means “the good place.” The old Kentucky government wasn’t always great, and they tried to get money to build a new capital at that time. Then the leaders of Kentucky decided to raise funds instead to build a distillery, because the people were always wanting a good whiskey, and that one in the middle of the state would do a good job.
A few years after that, the first record of a distillery building was placed on the property in 1795 at the distillery and barreling building. It’s been there since. The first distillery was more or less what we have today, even if it was only two buildings: The barreling building, and the distillery.
Then, in 1796, Thomas Callaway and his son George started distilling. They used corn and rye, for the distillery was a small one. It had a large bar