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The Bluegrass State is famed around the world for its delicious whiskey. It is, after all, the home of Bourbon – one of the most beloved styles of whiskey on the planet!
When European settlers came to America, they brought with them distilling knowledge and traditions. First settling on the East Coast, they found rye grew plentifully, and a rye whiskey industry blossomed, particularly in Pennsylvania and Maryland. As migrants moved West and South, they discovered that corn, cultivated for thousands of years by Native Americans, grew in abundance – and made delicious spirit!
Kentucky attracted many settlers in the late 18th century with the promise of land. What they found was a region rich in fertile soil, and limestone filtered water: perfect for the production of whiskey. It's said that Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister, was the first to age whiskey in charred oak barrel (a process now legally required for Bourbon), which gave the spirit its unique flavour.
The name Bourbon is also thought to have emerged in Kentucky, from Bourbon County, one of the state's original nine counties – barrels of whiskey were often marked with the name "Old Bourbon County" when they were shipped, and the title stuck!
These days, Kentucky contains more than 95% of America's Bourbon production, featuring some world famous distilleries including: Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, Heaven Hill and Wild Turkey. But, as our collection of Kentucky whiskey shows, it's not all about Bourbon in the state, with some delicious rye spirit also produced.