Bourbon's Backroads: A Journey Through Kentucky's Distilling Landscape (Hardcover)

Bourbon's Backroads: A Journey Through Kentucky's Distilling Landscape By Karl Raitz Cover Image

Bourbon's Backroads: A Journey Through Kentucky's Distilling Landscape (Hardcover)


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With more than fifty distilleries in the state, bourbon is as synonymous with Kentucky as horses and basketball. As one of the commonwealth's signature industries, bourbon distilling has influenced the landscape and heritage of the region for more than two centuries. Blending several topics-tax revenue, railroads, the mechanics of brewing, geography, landscapes, and architecture-this primer and geographical guide presents a detailed history of the development of Kentucky's distilling industry.

Nineteenth-century distilling changed from an artisanal craft practiced by farmers and millers to a large-scale mechanized industry that practiced increasingly refined production techniques. Distillers often operated at comparatively remote sites-the "backroads"-to take advantage of water sources or transport access. Some distillers adopted mechanization and the steam engine, forgoing water power-a change that permitted geographical relocation of distilleries away from traditional sites along creeks or at large springs to urban or rural rail-side sites.

Based on extensive archival research that includes private paper collections, newspapers, and period documents, this work places the distilling process in its environmental, geographical, and historical context. Bourbon's Backroads reveals the places where bourbon's heritage was made-from old and new distilleries, storage warehouses, railroad yards, and factories where copper fermenting vessels are made-and why the industry continues to thrive.

Karl Raitz is professor emeritus of the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky. His research focuses on the geographical history of the American landscape with an emphasis on infrastructure development, technology applications, and cultural heritage. His most recent book, Kentucky's Frontier Highway: Historical Landscapes along the Maysville Road, was coauthored with historical archaeologist Nancy O'Malley.
Product Details ISBN: 9780813178424
ISBN-10: 0813178428
Publisher: South Limestone
Publication Date: November 5th, 2019
Pages: 216
Language: English