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Issue 93 - Has Kentucky Lost it's Mojo

Whisky Magazine Issue 93
January 2011


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Has Kentucky Lost it's Mojo

Is Kentucky in danger of losing its special place in the hearts of whiskey lovers? Some say the decline has already begun. Charles K. Cowdery finds out...

The jig is up for Kentucky.

Everyone now knows that Kentucky doesn't have a patent on bourbon whiskey. Bourbon may be made anywhere in the United States, not just Kentucky.

It used to be made in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Virginia and other states, but people have forgotten this.

Today bourbon is once again made in Indiana, as well as Wisconsin, Texas, Colorado, and New York. With the explosion of craft distilleries, new bourbon producers seem to sprout up every day.

The myth that Kentucky has some unique privilege to put its name on whiskey labels has been debunked too. There is now an Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey, called Harrison, and a Texas Straight Bourbon whiskey, called Garrison. Only two of Kentucky's bourbon producers are Kentucky-based companies. To add insult to injury Jack Daniel's, the world's favorite whiskey, is made in nearby Tennessee.

Although not technically bourbon, Daniel's dominates the bourbon category. Whenever someone talks about the ‘bourbon business,' Jack is the elephant in the room, along with a much smaller one, Diageo's George Dickel.

The Bluegrass State has long been synonymous with bourbon whiskey. Some people say it's the water, others say it's the climate that makes Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey superior to all others and the choice of whiskey connoisseurs throughout the world.

Others say there is nothing special about Kentucky. It's just a coincidence that when the American whiskey industry contracted ...

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