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History of Bourbon

history of bourbon

Hattiesburg, MS

Move over, Elijah Craig. Fred Minnick, in his new book, says he has determined the true inventor of bourbon.

Minnick’s book, entitled Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, delved into the history of the corn-based American libation. During his research, Minnick said that he unearthed that James Spears, not Craig, is the true “father” of bourbon whiskey, which consists of at least 51 percent corn and is aged in charred barrels that are at least 2 years old.

Traditional American whiskeys were made with rye or other grains, whereas corn is the basis of bourbon. According to Minnick, whiskeys made with a mix of corn and rye began to appear between 1813 and 1818. Corn distillation began to become more prominent in the Northeast U.S. However, storing whiskey in charred oak barrels—another key component of the process that makes bourbon—did not start to become popular until the 1820s.

The Western Citizen newspaper has the first published mention of bourbon by name, in 1821, in an advertisement by Maysville, Ky., distillery Stout and Adams that advertised “bourbon whiskey by barrel or keg.”

According to Minnick, Spears was the first distiller to combine corn-based whiskey with charred oak barrels to produce bourbon, as we know it today.

As for Spears, he and his family moved to Kentucky in the late 1780s. An 1897 report acknowledged Spears’ Bourbon County Distillery as “the famous Peacock Distillery,” with a newspaper article from that era touting it as “the oldest distillery in Kentucky” and claiming that “in this rude distillery was made the first bourbon whiskey ever distilled.”

“Even if Spears was not the first bourbon distiller, he was most certainly one of the Kentucky’s first and most important,” Minnick wrote.

Does understanding some of the history of bourbon make it taste better? You won’t know until you come by our store and purchase a bottle to try for yourself! If nothing else, this short read might just get you craving some of that barrel aged liquid goodness.

How to enjoy bourbon

There really is no right or wrong way to enjoy bourbon. Many bourbon drinkers that appreciate the smooth, richness of the liquor prefer to drink it “neat,” which means at room temperature in a glass without any ice or mixers. However, drinking bourbon “on the rocks” or over ice can be just as enjoyable to some. There are many great recipes available online that shows you how to enjoy bourbon in one of your favorite cocktails. Just remember, the best way to enjoy it is whatever way you prefer!

At Lincoln Road Package Store, we pride ourselves on an extensive selection of bourbons, from budget brands to top-shelf, from well-known industry leaders to more obscure distilleries.

Visit our location at 2800 Lincoln Road, Suite A, in Hattiesburg, MS, to browse our current selection of bourbon. Got a question? Contact our courteous and experienced staff by calling us at (601) 268-3677 or send an e-mail to jamiefarris@gmail.com.

Lincoln Road Package Store is there to serve the adult beverage needs of Hattiesburg, MS.

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