Why Kentucky is so popular for Bourbon

Why Kentucky is so popular for Bourbon

What comes to mind when you think of Kentucky? Is it horses? The Kentucky Derby? Bluegrass? Or is it Kentucky's biggest export... Bourbon? From Jim Beam to Makers Mark it's all made in Kentucky, primarily between Louisville and Lexington. Nearly all bourbon is made there: 95 percent, according to the Kentucky Distillers Association. The connection between the state and the spirit is undeniable. Why is this so? Here are the 5 biggest factors to the secret of Kentucky's greatest contribution to the world.

Kentucky sits on a bed of gorgeous blue limestone, which makes the ideal building block for bourbon. When water flows through the rock, it picks up minerals that add personality and flavor. Limestone also acts as a filter, eliminating bitter elements such as iron.

The water in Kentucky is hard โ€” meaning, it has a high pH and a high proportion of minerals, including calcium and magnesium. These elements are optimal for distilling. The yeast in bourbon adores those minerals. They aid the fermentation process and create the distinctive, crisp Kentucky bourbon we know and love.

Kentucky boasts some of the richest, most fertile soil in the country, ideal for growing the major ingredient in bourbon: corn. Bourbon must contain at least 51 percent corn, and Kentucky is up to the task. The state has been corn country since its earliest days in the late 1700s. Itโ€™s so committed to the golden kernel that it grows corn in every county. Could any state top that for sheer dedication?

Hot in the summer, cold in the winter: Kentucky enjoys its weather extremes and so does its bourbon. These shifts in temperature impact the wooden barrels, which expand and contract as they age. As the barrel expands, the whiskey seeps in, absorbing the properties of the charred wood. As the barrel contracts, the whiskey flows back out, laden with flavor and golden amber in color.

The area was first settled by immigrants from Ireland and Scotland, who brought with them the whiskey-distilling skills of their homelands. Those skills were handed down from generation to generation โ€” sowing the seeds for what would become bourbon country.

I personally found these facts interesting because I will be traveling to that area next week and I hope to sample some of the fine bourbons.


Why Kentucky is so popular for Bourbon
Add Opinion

Join the discussion

Most Helpful Guys

  • Ram0n83

    I was born & raised in Louisville, KY, and currently reside in southern IN, right on the other side of the Ohio River from Louisville.

    I get that KY is very well-known for bourbon. I've toured the Wild Turkey distillery, and even got a bottle of their whisky autographed by the owner. Bourbon is an interesting tidbit that KY & TN are both very well known for, and it definitely has a history here, especially as a result of prohibition.

    That said, I am a little tired of hearing about it. It seems like there is hardly any local advertising or business ventures that isn't bourbon-related. Minus the Kentucky Derby, people don't seem to notice any of the other stuff that KY is also famous for. What about a log cabin in Hodgenville, where Abraham Lincoln was born? And speaking of U. S. Presidents, what about a house in the east end of Louisville that used to belong to Zachary Taylor, and the former President and Ms. Taylor being interred not too far from their old home? I'm not saying that bourbon doesn't have a place or shouldn't get attention. But there is more to KY than just bourbon and the Derby. I wish some more attention would go to the other things, too.

    Is this still revelant?
    • I will actually be in Louisville and Southern Indiana. I plan to see the river and falls of the Ohio as well as Bernheim forest. Yes I did learn about President Taylor being buried there as well as Col. Sanders and Muhammad Ali

    • Ram0n83

      Sanders and Muhammad Ali are convenient: they're in the same cemetery (Cave Hill Cemetery). In that same cemetery, you can also visit Nikola Marshall (I'll let you research if you're not familiar with him).

      If you want to do some sightseeing here, PM me and I'll give you a list of places. You will also be conveniently close to the first state capital of Indiana, which you can tour.

  • mr_mike85

    I went to eastern Kentucky university but I'm from the DC area. I always thought it and confirmed it, it's a lot like WV, but it's got some beautiful country rivers and mountains, and I have pride in Kentucky bourbon in part because I went to school there.

    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Girl

  • BattleKitten77

    I do not think of kentucky as home of best whiskey. I think Tennessee. The natural springs here flavor Jack Daniels and George Dickel. When i think of horses i think Shelbyville TN. Home of the TN walker

    Is this still revelant?

What Girls & Guys Said

  • Tyme1313

    Well mainly because real bourbon can only come from Kentucky. Just the way it is. Much like champagne only comes from the champagne region of France.

  • El_Heffe

    You left out the history of your state. Say from the last ice age and onwards.
    Kentucky for me will always be Bourbon and I'm a Markers Mark guy and have been since 1994 when I bought my first bottle.

  • HungLikeAHorsefly

    Nice Take, but I have some corrections:

    - Kentucky's largest export is aerospace parts, not whiskey - by a factor of about 25x
    - I'm quite sure Indiana and Illinois also grow corn in every county
    - Kentucky was originally settled by the French. Bourbon is itself a French name.

  • SirRexington

    These are very cool facts I'm glad I have learned. I like learning stuff like this. It also makes me want a shot of bourbon.

  • The classic, charming cowboy country life is what comes to my mind with Kentucky.

  • Moonchild714

    It's not Bourbon unless it comes from Kentucky. Just as Champagne can only xome from Champagne, France.

    • Technically, bourbon can also come from Virginia.

    • HereIbe

      Wrong. The law does NOT specify which state bourbon must come from. The law only specifies the following (from CFR 27/I/A/5/C/5.22):

      It must be produced in the United States.
      The mash bill must be at least 51% corn, with a a combination of other grains, such as rye, wheat, and/or malted barley.
      It must be distilled at no higher than 160 proof (80%) from a fermented mash.
      It must be aged in new charred oak barrels starting at no more than 125 proof.
      It must be a minimum of 80 proof at bottling.

      That's it. Those are the ONLY legal requirements to define bourbon.

    • HereIbe

      @HungLikeAHorsefly, bourbon can legally be made in New York, Idaho, or GUAM. Go re-read the regulations.

    • Show All
  • cuz it's the only state that makes 95 percent of it do it really can't be calked 100 percent not unless it's made there

    • an great post have a great trip enjoy an have a great day cheers to you ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘an it was a fun post

  • future_

    I've had makers mark. Great to shoot it everything else about it is gross. And why shoot makers when there's fireball and it costs $20 less for a 750ml

    • I feel a little incredulous that you just compared Makers to Fireball. I take it you don't actually like whiskey?

  • Reddwolf

    Kentucky just don't make Bourbon they make whiskey to

  • d_e141

    It's popularity have reached Iraq
    It's well known among enthusiastic drinkers and drinkers who search for a tasty rich drink

  • Likes2drive

    Very informative mytake on this but if Iโ€™m not mistaken Kentucky is a dry state which is ironic

    • Just certain counties

    • Yeah the county itโ€™s made in I think is one and itโ€™s such a big producer

    • HereIbe

      Wrong. Kentucky is not a dry state. The counties that produce most of the Kentucky bourbon are NOT DRY, you MORON! You are thinking of Jack Daniels, which is NOT MADE IN KENTUCKY and IS NOT BOURBON--idiot.

    • Show All
  • ArianaAlazay

    Every state has that thing they are known for , Vermont maple syrup, Wisconsin cheese , etc

  • Agape93

    Mitch McConnell unfortunately lol

  • Omg yess I love this๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

  • PineTops

    Real Kentucky fried chicken and bourbon.

  • Jack Daniels?

  • Massageman

    Interesting (hic) take- lots of info!

  • Hidden_P

    Actually I think of chicken...

    • JinRavage

      Appropriate. KFC is the second largest fast food chain in the world, and it was all started out of a Shell gas station and an actual shootout.

  • This was really well written. And I love whiskey.

  • Sublime45

    I like bourbon and I like your take.

  • dwgwnr

    Because that's where jim beam is from

  • Nice my take.

  • cheekylad

    My favourite drink Jack Daniels

  • mrArcher

    I hate bourbon.
    Sorry. I preffer Scotch.

  • Micheal2019
  • EdouardGaudette

    Cuz it's good that's all