Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniels, 4 Roses, Marker’s Mark, Laird and Company and the list goes on and on. These infamous names, located right in the great US of A have been a part of the history that shaped America. Maker’s Mark has the oldest bourbon distillery in the world located in Loretto, Kentucky and Jack Daniels is the oldest registered distillery in American located in Lynchburg, Tennessee.  But the early beginning of distillation is a far cry from amber waves of grain and purple mountains majesty.

We actually owe a debt of gratitude to Arabs who actually understood alchemy and the science behind distillation which was right around the 8th or 9th century. The process itself is basically separating the liquid by vaporization and condensation. The container or “alembic” consists of two vessels connected by a tube and rumor has it, that this container was created by 2 sisters although that has never been officially confirmed. 

But even when the discovery was made, it was more for ritual and medicinal purposes rather than consumption. The actual first documentation of alcohol use comes from an Italian medical school in the 12th century and confirmation of it being used recreationally came after a document called The Penniless Pilgrimage mentions recreationally drinking “aque vitae” or “booze” in the 16th century.

Believe it or not, the process hasn’t changed that much even though there are many new methods and technologies out there, most of the tried and true procedures remain intact. But once it is in the barrel, then it gets rather interesting as all bourbons are whiskeys but not all whiskeys are bourbons… And that is a whole other article for another newsletter. Suffice it is say, alcohol and its origins are fascinating whether you are walking down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or sipping on your Titos and orange juice.

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