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Issue 83 - The History man

Whisky Magazine Issue 83
October 2009


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The History man

Kentuckian Mike Veachhas dedicated his adult life to archiving bourbon. Now he's seeing it gets the respect it deserves.

If ever anyone deserved to have been inducted in to the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, it is Mike Veach.

He has spent the last 18 years seeking out historical records about the distilleries of Kentucky and archiving them, putting on record the living history of the state's bourbon industry. While others have waved the flag up on the deck of the good ship bourbon, Veach has been in the engine room,constantly stoking the engines that have powered it.

During the last two decades he has seen the whole bourbon landscape change beyond recognition. He has seen the annual bourbon festival grow from modest roots in to a week-long family celebration of one of the world's greatest products, and he has seen the whiskey go through a rebirth, from frowned-upon menonly hard liquor to increasingly respected premium spirit.

He's watched as the tourist authorities have recognised the important of bourbon to the reputation of Kentucky and incorporated it in to their marketing, and he's watched as its personalities have been feted and championed.

Now, as bourbon enjoys a higher and higher profile,he admits that he sometimes wondered whether the industry could survive at all.

“I am impressed that the bourbon industry is still around, despite the higher taxes and the religious right,”he says.“The industry is not only surviving, it is growing. I am cautiously optimistic about the future. There is great potential and the leaders seem to recognise this potential.” Veach' s professional l...

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