Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
At any moment, there are more barrels of bourbon aging on a shelf in Kentucky then there are people in the state. Bourbon is an American whiskey that is made from corn and can trace its origins to immigrant settlers. Technically, bourbon can be made anywhere in America but it is often associated with the South and especially with Kentucky where 95% of the world’s bourbon is now produced. Bourbon whiskey has been an iconic symbol of the “Bluegrass State” ever since the state was founded in 1792.
Conflicting stories tell the tale of how bourbon first got its name but it likely started with the House of Bourbon, a royal dynasty that ruled France on-and-off between the 16th and 19th centuries and also took over the throne of Spain starting in the 19th century. Bourbon County, KY and Bourbon Street in New Orleans both took their name from this French monarchy during the era when the French still controlled the Louisiana Territory. Bourbon County was established in 1785 and was named after the House of Bourbon as a tribute to French King Louis XVI for his assistance during America’s Revolutionary War. It is located in northern Kentucky and is now a part of the Lexington-Fayette metropolitan area. Bourbon County’s county seat is the city of Paris, KY.
Bourbon County was originally very large and also home to many whiskey makers. In the late 1700s, the new state of Kentucky proved to be a great place to grow crops and this inevitably brought many new settlers to the region including a large number of immigrants from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Corn grew especially well in the region and when combined with the whiskey-making skills of the Scottish and Scots-Irish settlers, a new blend of liquor was born. Around the same time, whiskey was becoming the most popular alcoholic drink in America and the many navigable waterways leading out of Kentucky allowed the state’s more-than 500 distilleries to send their libations across much of the country.
As far as the name goes, two ideas are often tossed around. The bourbon whiskey originally produced in Bourbon County had the words “Old Bourbon” stamped on the side of the barrels and this may have been used to distinguish the unique whiskey, ultimately causing it to pick up its name. On the other hand, whiskey from Kentucky also became a popular drink on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and it may have instead been named after the famous street in the French Quarter. No one knows for sure.
There are a few things that make bourbon distinct from other whiskeys and federal guidelines have even been established to ensure proper labeling. Bourbon whiskey must be:
1. Produced in the United States
2. Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
3. Aged in new, charred oak containers
4. Distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume)
5. Entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume)
6. Bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume)
Some distillers claim it is the naturally limestone-filtered, iron-free water in Kentucky that makes their bourbon whiskey so unique. Some also claim that this is why the beer is so darn good too. Aging beer in old bourbon barrels gives the brew a unique color and flavor but it is also a high-risk practice as it requires extra money, time and space. If done properly, the brews often develop a strong but subtle flavor and a high alcohol content.
Today, Kentucky bourbon whiskey is popular all around the world and so is Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company’s Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, a beer that is now distributed to 31 U.S. States as well as seven other countries. It took a while to perfect, but Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company now creates one of the world’s most famous bourbon barrel-aged brews by combining the art of masterful beer-making and the legacy of Kentucky bourbon.
From the Brewer: Award-winning Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a unique sipping beer with the distinctive nose of well-crafted bourbon. Our Kentucky Irish Red Ale is aged for at least six weeks in freshly decanted bourbon barrels from some of Kentucky’s finest distilleries. Subtle yet familiar flavors of vanilla and oak are imparted to this special ale as it rests in the charred barrels. ABV 8.2%, IBU 19
Mark & Deidre Lyons - Co-Owners
Barrels of bourbon at Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co.