The Birth of Bourbon
A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
238 Pages, 8.00 x 10.00 in, 238 color photos
- Published: September 2015
Whiskey making has been an integral part of American history since frontier times. In Kentucky, early settlers brought stills to preserve grain, and they soon found that the limestone-filtered water and the unique climate of the scenic Bluegrass region made it an ideal place for the production of barrel-aged liquor. And so, bourbon whiskey was born.
More than two hundred commercial distilleries were operating in Kentucky before Prohibition, but only sixty-one reopened after its repeal in 1933. As the popularity of America's native spirit increases worldwide, many historic distilleries are being renovated, refurbished, and brought back into operation. Unfortunately, these spaces, with their antique tools and aging architecture, are being dismantled to make way for modern structures and machinery. In The Birth of Bourbon, award-winning photographer Carol Peachee takes readers on an unforgettable tour of lost distilleries as well as facilities undergoing renewal, such as the famous Old Taylor and James E. Pepper distilleries in Lexington, Kentucky. This beautiful book also includes spaces that well-known brands, including Maker's Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace, have preserved as a homage to their rich histories.
Using a technique known as high-dynamic-range imaging -- a process that produces rich saturation, intensely clarified details, and a full spectrum of light -- Peachee reveals the vibrant life lingering in artifacts from worn cypress fermenting tubs to extravagant copper stills. This lavish celebration of bourbon's heritage will delight whiskey aficionados, history buffs, and art lovers alike.
"Carol Peachee has done an excellent job of preserving glimpses of America's distilling heritage. Many of the old distilleries depicted in these images are long gone, while others are being repurposed, but changed. These images preserve the past as the future changes the distilling industry." -- Michael Veach, author of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage
"The story of distilling, like the story of America, starts with the human need to secure a place that can produce enough to feed and shelter a family, the willingness to do hard work, the cleverness to do it efficiently, and the desire to do it well. It is America's story from its beginning to this moment." -- Sarah Tate, founding partner of Tate Hill Jacobs Architects, Lexington, Kentucky
"Bourbon is a worldwide phenomenon, with drinkers as far away as Japan and Australia. But there's also a homegrown market for people interested in bourbon, and The Birth of Bourbon taps into that. Peachee's obvious talent and eye for lighting, contrast, detail, and framing make each picture captivating." -- Andrew McMichael, professor of history at Western Kentucky University
"The pictures in this book speak more than a thousand words each. The author takes the idea of a private tour of a distillery to a whole new level. The Birth of Bourbon approaches the subject of bourbon from a very different perspective and reminds the reader that the fashion of bourbon is not a new idea but is fragile. A must for bourbon history enthusiasts." -- Albert Schmid, author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook
"Peachee captures the vibrant and haunting beauty of the distilleries. The Birth of Bourbon is a tour of Kentucky bourbon heritage that might have otherwise been lost if not for Peachee's determination to save it. The results not only document what remains, but they also showcase the beauty of these sites through a meditation on impermanence, labor, time, presence, and loss." -- Broadway World
"Like an archaeologist with a camera, Kentucky-based photographer Carol Peachee has been on a mission to document a spirited slice of Bluegrass history. [Her] photos do more than capture industrial artifacts -- they also stand as a testament to generations of life and livelihood." -- Garden & Gun
"[A]ward-winning photographer Carol Peachee takes readers on an unforgettable tour of lost distilleries as well as facilities undergoing renewal. The pictures in this book speak more than a thousand words each. The author takes the idea of a private tour of a distillery to a whole new level. [She] approaches the subject of bourbon from a very different perspective and reminds the reader that the fashion of bourbon is not a new idea but is fragile." -- Distillery Trail
" The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries [...] is an evocative exploration of bourbon's past. Peachee, a fine art photographer and cofounder of the Kentucky Women's Photography Network, has documented what's left of lost distilleries like Buffalo Springs and Atherton to the current renewal of the Old Taylor and James E. Pepper facilities. It's a very handsome book with more than 220 photographs." -- Louisville Courier-Journal
"With plentiful limestone-filtered springwater and an ideal climate, your old Kentucky home was God's gift to whiskey makers, and early settlers put grain to copper still and bourbon soon ran from it. But Prohibition cut the number of distilleries from more than two hundred to sixty-one, stranding scores of warehouses, grain hoppers, barrel rooms, boiler houses, and other grand relics that dot the Bluegrass State even today. The 238 mesmerizing, richly saturated color photos in this abandoned-distillery tour offer Americana at is best." -- Foreword Reviews
"Beautiful photography of rust, crumble, abandon... this would make a thoughtful holiday gift, especially if included with a bottle of something crafted in Kentucky." -- Southern Jewish Life
"Peachee provides valuable glimpses into the social, economic, cultural, and historical situation of these distilleries and their workers. This book serves as a valuable addition to the history of Kentucky, the bourbon industry, industrial archaeology, and photography." -- Kentucky Library Association
"This beautiful collection of amazing photos is wrapped up in a fascinating coffee-table book. With more than 200 photos, this book will interest bourbon lovers, photographers and artists as well as those who savor history." --