1789: Bourbon Whiskey 1st distilled from corn
Bourbon whiskey has been distilled since the 18th century and is a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. Essentially any type of grain can be used to make whiskey, and the practice of aging whiskey and charring the barrels for better flavor had also been known in Europe for centuries.
Bourbon whiskey has been traced to the 1820’s, and the term has been used consistently in Kentucky since 1870. The invention of bourbon is often attributed to Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister and distiller credited with who is also said to have been the first to age the product in charred oak casks, a process which gives bourbon its reddish color and distinctive taste.
When American pioneers pushed west of the Allegheny Mountains after the end of the American Revolution, the first counties they founded covered vast regions. One of these original, huge counties was Bourbon, established in 1785 and named after the French royal family. While this vast county was being carved into many smaller ones, early in the 19th century, many people continued to call the region Old Bourbon.
Located within Old Bourbon was the principal port on the Ohio River, Maysville, Kentucky, from which whiskey and other products were shipped. “Old Bourbon” was stencilled on the barrels to indicate their port of origin. Old Bourbon whiskey was different because it was the first corn whiskey most people had ever tasted. In time, bourbon became the name for any corn-based whiskey.