FRANKFORT, Ky. — Part of the charm of Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry is the folklore and legend surrounding its proud history. But as today’s Bourbon connoisseurs look to quench their thirst for whiskey knowledge, it can be sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction.
As a public service, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association has commissioned four Bourbon Hall of Fame historians to research and develop an official historical timeline of pioneers, landmark events and noteworthy occurrences.
“After two centuries, our industry is full of mystique that can be confusing to visitors and consumers,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “We obviously want to keep that allure and appeal, but also be able to answer questions with independent, concrete and factual evidence.”
The KDA has turned to four members of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, who will meet today for the first time at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville to begin work on the important project.
– 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.
– Dixie Hibbs, author of X 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.
– 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.
– 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.”
Jeff Conder, Chairman of the KDA’s Board of Directors, said the timeline will serve as an official industry document to educate members, consumers and the media on the rich history of America’s only native spirit.
“There are numerous books and publications that contain excellent, in-depth research on Bourbon history, but this compilation will be a useful tool in bringing those facts together for everyone to use,” said Conder, Vice President of Americas Operations for Beam, Inc.
Gregory said the panel, which is volunteering its time, will not explore topics such as who invented Bourbon. “They will only document facts that can be backed up by detailed evidence with citations,” he said.
“Our aim is for the timeline to be used by others as an official source on the history of Bourbon, its founders, brands and other interesting facts. And it will be inclusive of all distilleries, not just KDA members.”
The KDA, a non-profit group founded in 1880, is charged with promoting and protecting the state’s Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Members include Beam Inc. (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman Corp., Diageo North America, Four Roses, Heaven Hill and Wild Turkey.
Craft members include Alltech, Barrel House Distilling, Corsair Artisan, Limestone Branch, MB Roland Distillery, Old Pogue Distillery and Silver Trail Distillery.
Gregory said the industry is fortunate to have people like Cowdery, Hibbs, Veach and Young who have extensive knowledge of Bourbon’s storied past and understand its significant impact on Kentucky’s history, economy and culture.
“Plus, they know everyone, from Master Distillers to the hard-working men and women who make Bourbon history every day,” Gregory said. “They have a deep understanding and passion for our industry, and we’re fortunate to be able to tap into that wisdom and expertise.”
For more information, contact KDA President Eric Gregory at (502) 875-9351 or visit online at www.kybourbon.com or www.kybourbontrail.com. KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL® and BOURBON TRAIL™ are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. The KDA and its members ask that you enjoy Kentucky Bourbon responsibly and in moderation, and never mix drinking and driving.