Skip to comments.Sour Mash to Bourbon to Mint Julep
Posted on 08/02/2010 6:01:23 AM PDT by jay1949
Kentucky settlers brought with them the craft of making whiskey, substituting corn for other grain ingredients. Raw whiskey distilled from corn mash has a good deal of, shall we say, character, and some distillers decided to take the time to make a mellower product. Early Kentucky distillers used new oak casks which had been charred on the inside, aging the whiskey from two to six years before decanting into jugs for sale. This resulted in a superior product which eventually became the hard liquor of choice for Americans. We know it as "Bourbon."
(Excerpt) Read more at backcountrynotes.com ...
My bourbon of choice is Woodford Reserve.
Bourbon makes my teeth hurt.
I have always wondered because bourbon has such a different flavor than Irish Whiskey or Scotch Whisky (both of which I love--have never cared for bourbon).
Is it the corn in bourbon that gives it such a different taste? Do no Kentucky distillers use barley?
Woodford Reserve is at the top of my list as well.
My 5th great granduncle was Elijah Craig - some a little duplicative:
Located just north of the crossroads of I-75 and I-64, Georgetown and Scott County are ideally located 10 miles north of Lexington, the Horse Capital of the World. For Canadian travelers Georgetown is just one days drive. Georgetown was founded in 1790 by the Baptist minister Elijah Craig. The Reverend Craig is perhaps best known for his world famous invention, bourbon whiskey.
In 1784, Elijah Craig (1743-1808), an idealistic Baptist preacher from Spotsylvania County, Virginia, incorporated the town of Lebanon near the site of McClelland’s Fort in the Virginia legislature. In 1790, the town’s name was changed to George Town in honor of President George Washington. And in 1792 it became George Town, Kentucky, when Kentucky became the15th state of the union.
Craig is credited by some with the establishment of “the first classical school in Kentucky, the first saw and grist mill, the first fulling and paper mill, and the first ropewalk. Others affirm that he also produced the first bourbon whiskey. In the December 27, 1787, edition of the Kentucky Gazette Craig advertised for fifty or sixty scholars to study at an academy that would open on January 28, 1788 “in Lebanon town,” and would offer courses in Latin, Greek, and “such branches of the sciences as are usually taught in public seminaries.” Ten years later the school was absorbed by the Rittenhouse Academy, which was given by the state some 5,900 acres in Christian and Cumberland counties so that they might sell the land to benefit their endowment fund. The academy, in turn, was absorbed by Georgetown College in 1829.
© Jerry Richardson
Data from “THE KENTUCKY GAZETTE 1801-1820”, Rev. ELIJAH CRAIG of
Georgetown died Wednesday 18 May 1808. He was one of the 1st settlers in
KY., and erected the 1st paper mill.
Rev. Elijah Craig was an eminent pioneer preacher of Virginia and Kentucky, and brother of the famous Lewis Craig, was born in Orange Co.,Virginia about the year 1743. He was awakened to a knowledge of his lost estate under the preaching of the renowned David Thomas, in 1764. Next
year he was encouraged by Samuel Harris to hold meetings among his neighbors. This he did, using his tobacco-bvarn for a meeting house.
Many were converted.
In 1766, Mr. Craig went to North Carolina, to get James Read to come and baptize him and others. He was ordained in May, 1771, at which time he became pastor of Blue Run church. Some time after this he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel. In jail he lived on rye bread and water, and
preached to the people through the prison bars. He remained in Culpepper jail one month. After this “he was honored with a term in Orange Jail.”
He became one of the most useful and popular preachers in Virginia. He was several times sent as a delegate from the General Association to the Virginia Legislature, to aid in securing religious liberty. In 1786 he removed to Scott Co., Kentucky. After this he labored but little in the
ministry. Being a good business man, he soon amassed a fortune, and was of great value to the new country. He established the first school in which the classics were taught, built the first rope-walk, the first fulling-mill,
and the first paper-mill that existed in Kentucky. He died in 1808.
From “THE KENTUCKY BEVERAGE JOURNAL” January 1993 issue: The durable claim that Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister, made the first Bourbon Whiskey can be traced to Richard Collins, whose “History of Kentucky” was published in 1874. Collins doesn’t identify Craig by name, but writes that “the first Bourbon Whiskey was made in 1789, at Georgetown, at the
fulling mill at the Royal spring.” This statement is on a densely-packed page of assorted Kentucky “firsts.” Collins doesn’t substantiate his claim nor is there any other evidence to support it. Craig was a real person and he was a distiller, there is just no evidence that his whiskey
was unique in its day. Reverend Craig, however, was a unique individual. He and his congregation were chased out of Virginia for religious reasons so he established Lebanon Town, in Kentucky, in 1786. In 1787, Craig founded a
school that is now Kentucky’s Georgetown College. In 1789, he established Kentucky’s first fulling mill (for making cloth). A year later, the name of Lebanon Town was changed to Georgetown to honor George Washington. In 1793, Craig opened Kentucky’s first paper plant. In 1795, he started a shipping business on the Kentucky River.
On September 26, 1798, he was found guilty of making whiskey without a license (so were 177 of his neighbors) and fined $140. Was Elijah Craig Kentucky’s first Bourbon-maker? Maybe not. Was he Kentucky’s first big time entrepreneur? Absolutely!
Corn spirits were made as early as 1746, and a distillery was established in Bourbon County in 1783. Elijah Craig is often credited with development of the distinctive taste of bourbon. Craig, a Baptist minister from Royal Springs, Virginia (now named Georgetown, Kentucky) began making his spirits in 1789. It was Dr James C. Crow, a physician and chemist, who introduced the scientific methodology and quality control to Kentucky whiskey making in the 1820s. He also introduced the sour-mash distilling process. At first it was called “corn whiskey”, but by the middle of the 19th century it was so associated with Bourbon County, Kentucky, that it was called “bourbon”, or “Kentucky bourbon”. There are currently thirteen distilleries in Kentucky, making nearly 80% of the world’s supply of bourbon, with the remaining produced in Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri.
An article which appeared in Cigar Aficionado, Autumn 1993, The Spirits of Kentucky: Small-Batch and Single-Barrel Bourbons Revive the Good Old Days of Whiskey by Mark Vaughan, includes: “The process of charring barrels originated with Elijah Craig, an eighteenth-century minister and distiller from Georgetown, Kentucky. Craig ‘discovered’ charring when several barrels he was preparing for transportation to market caught fire. The fire may have been set on purpose, in which case it is likely that Craig was trying to find a way to recycle barrels that had been used to ship dried fish. If the conflagration was accident, it was probably caused by a fire in Craig’s own cooperage.”
‘Either way,’ says Samuels, ‘being a good Scotsman, he didn’t want to throw any barrels away. So he filled them with white lightning, by the time he got it all down river to market in New Orleans, with all the sloshing and such, the whiskey had this nice amber color.
Liquor store doesn’t open for another hour and a half :(
I think they came from Ireland durring some sort of revolution. I know the mountain people in East Tennessee did.
Early settlers in Kentucky were primarily Scotch-Irish (Scots-Irish) and English, with other ethnicities typical of the colonial Backcountry here and there (Welsh, Scot, New Amsterdam Dutch). The corn content of the mash is certainly a major determinant of the flavor of the finished product. Barley is used, but in relatively small amounts — negligible, when compared to Scotch. My personal preference is Scotch, especially “peaty”-flavored single-malts like Jura, but I do appreciate some sour mash Bourbons, like Jim Beam.
If Kentucky distillers made a great Irish whiskey priced like Evan Williams, it would be my steady drink!
My all-time favorite scotch is the Dalmore (probably less popular among diehards but my tastebuds give it their vote at every tasting).
Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!
As is mine...good stuff.
Most of the over mountain people, as they were then known, were Scot-Irish and Irish ancestry. Scot-Irish is still very much in evidence in many of the southern states. I am descended from Scot-Irish(most of the time pronounced Scotch-Irish)ancestors.
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