Food & Drink Week
10:00 am
Wed November 27, 2013

An Oral History of Bourbon in Louisville

Bourbon is America's native spirit. Federal law says so. But for people in Louisville, bourbon is even closer, sentimentally and literally. The city developed quickly through the growth of the bourbon industry, and the current downtown resurgence depends largely on spirit's continued popularity.

But it's been a twisted path from the first batch's debut and the latest distillery ribbon cutting. It's a story of taxes, Prohibitions, power and capitalism.

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Food & Drink Week
7:30 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Is Kentucky Limestone Water Indispensible for Bourbon?

The spring at Maker's Mark that originally provided water for the distillery's bourbon.
Erica Peterson WFPL

Water is an essential ingredient in bourbon. And many local distillers have long said the commonwealth’s unique limestone water distinguishes Kentucky bourbon from competitors. But how important is it really?

To legally be called bourbon, the spirit has to be made of mostly corn. It has to be aged in new charred-oak barrels. And it has to be made in the United States. There's no rule that dictates what type of water is used, but many local distillers say no matter what the law says, bourbon isn't bourbon unless it's made with limestone water.

It's a stipulation that goes back to the early days of bourbon. University of Kentucky geology professor Alan Fryar says it was easy access to limestone water that played an integral role in launching the bourbon industry here centuries ago.

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Food & Drink Week
11:40 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Non-Kentucky Micro-Distilleries Could Help Define What Comes After Bourbon


Manager Nick Reifsteck looks at the stash of bourbons at Old Town Wine and Spirits in Louisville; there’s a wall full of brown liquor.

How many bourbons would you say you carry here at Old Town? I ask.

"I don’t know, a couple hundred. I don’t know, I’ve never counted them," he says.

Reifsteck points to only a few from out of state, but says there are more now than ever before.

“A lot of these boutique brands. They don’t even distill or age their own bourbons. They buy from other distillers and they label them however they want," he says.

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Food & Drink Week
9:00 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Is Old Forester Louisville's House Bourbon?

The Old Forester-shaped water tower, at Brown-Forman's corporate headquarters on Dixie Highway. An advertising budget bankrolled an insurance company-mandated water tower over what used to be a warehouse. The bottle no longer holds water, but it still advertises Old Fo' far and wide.
Credit Brown-Forman

Old Forester has quite the pedigree.

Founded in 1873, it’s older than Coca-Cola and was the first bourbon to be sold in bottles. Even during Prohibition, a special medicinal license kept Old Forester in production. And for Louisville, it’s the ultimate “buy local” bourbon—distilled, bottled and aged right here in the city.  

The spirit locals call “Old Fo'” might just be Louisville's house bourbon. At Old Town Liquors on Bardstown Road, they sell a lot of bourbon, and Old Forester is a best-seller. 

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Local News
12:04 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Perps Purloin Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon

Pappy Van Winkle
Credit Wikipedia Commons

FRANKFORT — One of the rarest and most sought-after bourbon's produced in Kentucky is missing.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton says someone swiped about 65 cases of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon in what appears to be an inside job from a secure area at Buffalo Trace Distillery's Frankfort operations.

Melton told The Courier-Journal whoever stole the bourbon walked off with about $26,000 of the limited stock. That's about $25,350 in 3-bottle cases of 20-year-old Pappy and about $675 in nine cases of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve rye.

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Local News
3:53 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Angel's Envy Bourbon to be Produced in Renovated Louisville Building

Rendering of planned Angel's Envy Distillery

Another bourbon distillery will be constructed in downtown Louisville.

The makers of Angel’s Envy bourbon announced today that they’ll build a distillery and visitors’ center in the long-vacant Vermont American complex on Main Street across from Louisville Slugger Field.     The $12 million investment is expected to create 40 new jobs.

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Local News
7:10 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Angel's Envy Bourbon Gets $800,000 in Incentives for Possible Downtown Louisville Distillery

Credit Angel's Envy

The distiller behind Angel’s Envy bourbon has been approved for as much as $800,000 in state incentives to build a distillery in Louisville.

The state incentives will last for as many as 10 years for a distillery that would create 40 new jobs with a payroll of about $1.5 million. The craft bourbon distillery’s owners have plans to invest $10 million in a building and equipment.

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Local News
5:16 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Woodford Reserve Hopes Lounge at Fort Knox Will Promote Bourbon to Troops (And Help Them Relax)

Credit Creative Commons

A new collaboration between a bourbon distillery and the military will give soldiers a place to relax—and introduce them to one of Kentucky's signature products.

Liquor producer Brown-Forman has teamed up with the U.S. Army to open a Woodford Reserve bourbon lounge at Fort Knox. Soldiers and Brown-Forman executives opened the Woodford Reserve Room on Wednesday afternoon.

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Local News
4:14 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Evan Williams Brings Bourbon Trail to Louisville

Design for Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

It's not just Medicaid that's expanding in Kentucky…the Bourbon Trail is growing, too.

When it opens later this year, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on West Main Street will become the eight stop on the popular tourist attraction. The facility will be a working distillery with additional features to draw more visitors. 

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The Salt
7:55 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Less Potent Maker's Mark Not Going Down Smoothly In Kentucky

With too little distilled bourbon to meet demand, Maker's Mark is lowering the product's alcohol content from 90 to 84 proof.
Ed Reinke AP

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 7:58 pm

Kentucky is bourbon country. Bar shelves in Louisville are stocked with a crowded field of premium bourbons; the city's Theater Square Marketplace restaurant alone carries close to 170 different brands. So when news trickled out that longtime distillery Maker's Mark plans to water down its bourbon, locals were stunned.

Bourbon has to be aged at least two years — and that's where Maker's Mark got in trouble. Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels says the company simply didn't make enough.

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