Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Noted Historians Release First Official Bourbon History Timeline
For Immediate Release — November 6, 2013
FRANKFORT, Ky. — After a yearlong effort with four Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame
historians, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association today released the first-ever Bourbon historical
timeline of pioneers, landmark events and noteworthy occurrences.
The timeline can be found here and under the “History” tab at www.kybourbontrail.com.
“Today’s Bourbon connoisseur is thirsty for more than just premium whiskey — they seek a
robust knowledge of Bourbon,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “The goal of this effort is to
answer questions with independent, concrete and factual evidence.”
The interactive timeline documents how Bourbon has been impacted by topics such as
advertising, legislation, technology and transportation. It also catalogues historical events such as
Prohibition and American wars that have shaped the spirits industry over 200 years.
Al Young, Brand Ambassador at Four Roses Distillery and chairman of the timeline committee,
said the group steered away from brand-specific items and focused on fact-based events that
transformed the industry.
Timeline examples include the first recorded recipe for sour mash and sweet mash (1818), the
earliest known mention of a charred barrel ((1826), Frederick Stitzel’s patent of tiered storage
racks to increase air circulation (1879) and automated bottling systems (1904).
“While the folklore surrounding our signature industry is entertaining, this group focused on one
goal — accuracy,” Young said. “The timeline will be a useful educational tool for our members,
consumers and the media when researching the rich history of America’s only native spirit.”
J. McCauley Brown, President of the Filson Historical Society and Second Vice President of the
Kentucky Historical Society, said, “Our industry is a large part of American history, from the
Whisky Rebellion through Prohibition to how beverage alcohol is included in today’s society.
“An unbiased collection of historical facts is critical to ensure authenticity and clarity so that we
not only understand Bourbon’s role in people and society, but also understand how it’s changed
and how the world we live in came to be.”
The four esteemed historians who developed the timeline are:
ï‚· Chuck Cowdery, author of “Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of
American Whiskey” and several other books. Cowdery, a 2009 Hall of Fame inductee,
writes extensively about American whiskey for numerous magazines and publications.
ï‚· Dixie Hibbs, author of 14 books about Bourbon and Kentucky and a Hall of Fame
inductee in 2004. She has traveled throughout the world to spread her knowledge of
Bourbon and its history, and was the first female mayor of Bardstown, Ky.
ï‚· Mike Veach, a 2006 Hall of Fame member and one of the country’s most noted Bourbon
archivists, writer, book reviewer, speaker and educator. He has spent the past 15 years
building the Filson’s impressive and vast special collection of Bourbon records.
ï‚· Al Young, Four Roses Brand Ambassador with 45 years of knowledge in Kentucky’s
spirits industry. A true industry champion and 2011 Hall of Fame member, Young is the
author of “Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend.”
The historians also are hard at work on the “Kentucky Bourbon Tales” initiative, an oral history
project to collect the timeless stories of the state’s most cherished distillers and the iconic
distilleries they represent.
The KDA is teaming with the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History on
this collaborative, landmark effort, which is expected to be complete by May 2014.
Gregory said he wouldn’t be surprised if more items are added to the timeline based on the
interviews. “The timeline is grounded in facts, but it’s also a living document that will be
updated as we unearth more and more about our heritage,” he said.
“These historians have worked tirelessly and volunteered their time to capture the humble
beginnings and tremendous growth of Kentucky Bourbon,” Gregory said. “We can’t thank them
enough for their passion, expertise, dedication and commitment.”
For additional information, contact KDA President Eric Gregory at (502) 875-9351.
The KDA, a non-profit trade association founded in 1880, is the state’s foremost voice on spirits issues.
Members include Beam Inc. (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman Corp., Diageo North
America, Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., and Wild Turkey Distillery.
Craft distillery members include Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery, Barrel House Distilling Co., Corsair
Artisan Distillery, Limestone Branch Distillery, MB Roland Distillery, The Old Pogue Distillery, Silver
Trail Distillery, Wilderness Trace Distillery and The Willett Distillery. Educational members include
Distilled Spirits Epicenter.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, Kentucky Bourbon Tales™ and Bourbon Trail™ are trademarks/service
marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Go to www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com
for more information. Please drink responsibly.