the story of bourbon

 
 

the founder of bourbon

As the legend goes, Baptist preacher Elijah Craig invents bourbon in 1789 after a fire breaks out in his barn and chars some oak barrels, in which he then places corn whisky “just to see what happens.” Great story. And great for marketing. But likely, not true. Or, at the very least, not how it all began.

According to bourbon historian Fred Minnick, Pennsylvania immigrant Jacob Spears is the most likely “Father of Bourbon” as he opens Bourbon County’s first distillery in 1790 and begins distilling a corn based whiskey. Kentucky becomes a state two years later. Unfortunately for Spears, this is not a great “garage story” (or in this case, “barn story”). And as we know, whoever holds the narrative, holds the truth.