Americans have been making whiskey for longer than the States have been United. Sometime in the late 18th century, a band of small-batch distillers fled to the Kentucky countryside, where corn was abundant and a new liquor taxwhich had just spurred a bloody rebellionwas rarely enforced. They shipped their whiskey in charred oak barrels, which imparted an amber coloring and a pleasant, sweet-smoky flavor. Recognizing a good thing, they made some more and, with a stroke of marketing ingenuity, stamped the barrels with the whiskey's region of origin: "Old Bourbon."
Two hundred years later, Kentucky bourbon is still the king of American whiskey. But, spurred by changes in the laws, a passion for local ingredients and a love of history, craft distillers around the countryfrom New York and Colorado to Wisconsin and Oregonare now producing exceptional spirits.
Do you think you know your whiskey? Test your knowledge with the terms below: