Whisky Magazine Issue 129
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Where are distillers getting their grains?
When people think about Kentucky distilleries, they often ponder the brash master distillers or the charred oak barrels ageing in those magnificent smelling wooden warehouses or the two fingers neat swirling in their lovely Glencairn glass. Far down on the list is Kentucky corn and wheat growers, who are Kentucky Bourbon through and through.
Without distilleries, Kentucky corn and wheat farmers would lose an important outlet to sell their grains. According to a recent Kentucky Distillers Association report, distillers purchase up to 40 per cent of their grains from Kentucky farmers. Since Bourbon must be made with at least 51 per cent corn, that means Bourbon is the No. 1 purchaser of Kentucky corn, while the University of Kentucky says the state's wheat, a cover crop, has little demand, making bourbon wheat's top purchaser as well. As for rye, well, it doesn't grow well in Kentucky. Rye needs a colder climate and flourishes in the likes of North Dakota, Germany and Canada.
With that said, all Kentucky distilleries purchase local grains; they just don't promote this fact.
That may soon change as smaller distilleries are promoting their local farmer and grain-to-glass distillery operations. As the American whiskey narrative constantly changes – from legends to transparency – look for distilleries to start promoting grain origins. Ahead of the curve, these ten American distilleries (detailed below) not only believe in using local grains, it's a big part of their st...