A timeline of Kentucky bourbon

After a year of work with four Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame historians, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association has unveiled an unprecedented bourbon history timeline of pioneers and landmark events. 

Lore and legends are a colorful part of bourbon culture, but they can also be frustrating. “The goal of this effort is to answer questions with independent, concrete and factual evidence,” said Eric Gregory, president of the KDA.

The interactive timeline documents how bourbon has been affected by topics such as advertising, legislation, technology and transportation. It also catalogs historical events such as Prohibition and American wars that have shaped the spirits industry over 200 years. You can scroll across the decades or jump to a particular year or event. Once you click on a subject, there are links to related events and additional information.

The timeline starts with early American stills in Harrodsburg in 1774 and runs through the creation of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour in 1999. The group steered away from particular brands and instead focused on events that affected the entire industry.

The four historians who developed the timeline are:

  • Chuck Cowdery, author of “Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey” and several other books. Cowdery, a 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, writes extensively about American whiskey for numerous magazines and publications.
  • Dixie Hibbs, author of 14 books about Bourbon and Kentucky and a 2004 Hall of Fame inductee. She was the first female mayor of Bardstown, Ky., “Bourbon Capital of the World.”
  • Mike Veach, a 2006 Hall of Fame member and one of the country’s most noted bourbon archivists, writer, book reviewer, speaker and educator. He has spent the past 15 years building the Filson’s impressive special collection of bourbon records.
  • Al Young, Four Roses Brand Ambassador with 45 years of knowledge in Kentucky’s spirits industry. A 2011 Hall of Fame member, Young is the author of “Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend.”

“While the folklore surrounding our signature industry is entertaining, this group focused on one goal – accuracy,” said Young.

Cheers to these fine historians for creating this valuable tool, which can also be found under the “History” tab at www.kybourbontrail.com.

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