A Journey through Kentucky's Distilling Landscape
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Kentucky's landscape is punctuated by landmark structures that signpost bourbon's venerable story: distilleries long-standing, relict, razed, and brand new, the grand nineteenth-century homes of renowned distillers, villages and neighborhoods where distillery laborers lived, Whiskey Row storage warehouses, river landings and railroad yards, and factories where copper distilling vessels and charred white oak barrels are made. During the nineteenth century, distilling changed from an artisanal craft practiced by farmers and millers to a large-scale mechanized industry that practiced increasingly refined production techniques. Distillers often operated at comparatively remote sites -- along the "backroads" -- to take advantage of water sources or river or turnpike transport access. As time passed, steam power and mechanization freed the industry from its reliance on waterpower and permitted distillers to relocate to urban and rural rail-side sites. This shift also allowed distillers to perfect their production techniques, increase their capacity, and refine their marketing strategies. The historic progression produced the "fine" Kentucky bourbons that are available to present day consumers. Yet, distillers have not abandoned their cultural roots and traditions; their iconic products embrace the modern while also engaging their history and geography.
Blending several topics -- inventions and innovations in distilling and transport technologies, tax policy, geography, landscapes, and architecture -- this primer and geographical guide presents an accessible and detailed history of the development of Kentucky's distilling industry and explains how the industry continues to thrive.
Kentucky's Distilling Heritage
Distilling's Backstory: The Prerequisites
The Inner Bluegrass Region: Remnants and Contemporary Distillery Works
The Outer Bluegrass Region: Railroads and the Transition to Industrial Drilling
Distilling in the Ohio River Valley
Epilogue: Backroads and the Reservoir of Tradition
"In this age of craft distilling and artisan whiskey, Kentucky bourbon stands out as an icon of American taste and culture. What Karl Raitz demonstrates in this superb volume is that bourbon is also an expression of a cultural landscape and historical geography that is as deep, rich, and complex as the whiskey that has made Kentucky famous. Geographers, historians, and whiskey aficionados will want to savor this book." -- Warren R. Hofstra, Shenandoah University in Virginia
"[Raitz's] extensive research details how geography, landscape and architecture led to the development of Kentucky's distilling industry over two centuries. The book is recommended for geographers, historians and bourbon lovers." -- The Kentucky 100
"Exceptionally researched and immediately captivating for those wishing to get into the finer points of bourbon's rich history of technical innovation and adaptability." -- DrinkHacker