It is not uncommon for our fair and blue-grassed state to end up as the butt of many a jibe and joke concerning our decidedly rural – and perhaps slightly folksy – approach to life. Our big, “cosmopolitan” flagship city (and that would be Louisville) is still, at heart, just a glorified small town with a nice pinch of big city swag fairy dust. And we like it that way, thank you very much. However, nothing can silence a squawking peanut gallery of naysayers faster than that one sweet word of on-the-rocks royalty: Bourbon. You’re welcome, world.
Raise a glass and celebrate Kentucky’s history of distillery genius tomorrow night at The Filson Historical Society as author and bourbon aficionado, Chet Zoller , illuminates the past of our great liquid gold at the event, Kentucky Bourbon Barons. Presenting his popular book, Bourbon in Kentucky, Zoller will discuss Kentucky’s peak period of bourbon production – 1836 to prohibition – and bring to light the rich (and decidedly spicy sweet) past of some 1,000 bourbon brands that contributed to this golden era. While Kentucky’s claim to bourbon fame is far from undisputed, many of the small and medium distilleries from our barreling past are virtually unknown to modern palates. Years in the making, Zoller’s Bourbon in Kentucky is a compilation of what is thought to be the first and only authoritative catalog of distilleries in Kentucky.
Zoller, a native son of Louisville, is a founder of the McLain and Kyne Distillery Company – the great mother providing Kentucky’s milk through the bottles of Jefferson’s Reserve, Sam Houston and Jefferson’s bourbon. Now under the guidance of Zoller’s son, Trey, the McLain and Kyne Distillery Company produces under the wing of Castle Brands – and the tradition of providing Kentucky’s great amber nectar continues.
Zoller’s presentation of Bourbon in Kentucky begins at 6pm with a Castle Brands reception to follow (probably for the best; being coherent for the discussion might help). Joy Perrine, bar manager of Jack’s Lounge (of the most excellent Equus) and author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book (we own this and you should too ) will be mixing her magic with some accompanying signature drinks featuring Jefferson’s Reserve bourbon.
Get your mix of history and Kentucky honey tomorrow night at The Filson Historical Society’s Kentucky Bourbon Barons event. Tickets are $15 for Filson members and $20 for non-members; reservations  are required. Books and bourbon? Friends, it is the perfect cocktail.
The Filson Historical Society is located at 1310 South Third Street. For more information, visit The Filson’s website 
Image: Courtesy of Chet Zoller’s website www.kentuckydistilleries.net