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    Ten Surprising Ways Bourbon Has Shaped Louisville and Louisville Has Shaped Bour
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    It’s National Bourbon Heritage Month.  Bourbon has shaped Louisville and Louisville has shaped bourbon in many surprising ways.  The more I learn from Louisville’s bourbonites (Mike Veach chief among them), the more I want to know.  Below are ten fascinating facts about Louisville’s bourbon heritage as well as bourbon’s Louisville heritage.

    1.  We invented bourbon as a way of keeping harvest good because we had to transport it down the river or over the mountains which took a long time.  Early Kentuckians brewed and distilled their grains and then stored them in barrels.  The insides were charred to prevent spoilage.

    2.  Louisvillian Frederick Stitzel invented the patented rick system used to store barrels in rick houses to this day at Stitzel-Weller.

    3.  Evan Williams was Louisville’s wharf master as well as the owner of Louisville’s first distillery.  You can learn more about this by visiting the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on Main Street.

    4.  Mellwood Avenue was named after the Mellwood Distillery, which was almost lost to history until local blogger Brian Haara uncovered a lawsuit detailing their contribution to Louisville’s bourbon history.  You can read his story here.

    5.  A few months back I visited the Portland Museum.  They had newsreel footage from the 1937 flood that showed bourbon barrels being used as makeshift bridges to evacuate people.

    6.  Atherton High School is the only school named for a bourbon distiller, John Atherton.

    7.  George Garvin Brown of Brown-Forman was the first to sell bourbon only by the bottle- Old Forrester.  Before that it was sold by the barrel and you could take your jug to the tavern to fill it up.

    8.  Pappy Van Winkle is one of the most recognizable names in bourbon.  He was a real person, and he had his office at Stitzel-Weller in Shively for decades.

    9.  Stitzel-Weller is experiencing its own renaissance thanks to Tom Bulleit.  A visitor’s center just opened there this week and officials announced they plan to start a small batch distilling operation there by Derby Day 2015.  This is the 9th and newest stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

    10. Jug Band Music was invented here.  This type of music was popular in river towns all over America, but we added bourbon jugs and made it our own.  There’s a Jug Band Jubilee this weekend at Waterfront Park to celebrate the intersection of bourbon and music in Louisville.

    Photos Courtesy of The Filson Historical Society

    Maggie Kimberl's picture

    About Maggie Kimberl

    I'm a Louisville native with a passion for traveling and homegrown tomatoes. I write the bourbon news, which keeps me plenty busy since Louisville is the center of the bourbon universe. See bourbon news happening? Contact me on Twitter @LouGirl502!

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