View Full Version : bourbon developers

01-26-2000, 09:47
A question posed in a recent Kentucky history discussion...

Name the TWO baptist ministers that developed bourbon in
Scott County/Bourbon County/Georgetown...

I have been able to name only one - Elijah Craig. Can anyone help me with the second?

Please, email me at jpbracy@hotmail.com THANKS!!!! jp

01-26-2000, 18:10
The durable claim that Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister, made the first Bourbon Whiskey can be traced to Richard Collins, whose History of Kentucky was published in 1874. Collins doesn't identify Craig by name, but writes that "the first Bourbon Whiskey was made in 1789, at Georgetown, at the fulling mill at the Royal spring." This statement is on a densely-packed page of assorted Kentucky "firsts." Collins doesn't substantiate his claim nor is there any evidence to support it from any other source. Craig was a real person and he was a distiller, but there is just no evidence that his whiskey was unique in its day. In other words, there is no evidence that it was bourbon, as opposed to the same spirit everyone else on the frontier was making from corn.

Reverend Craig, however, was a unique individual. He and his congregation were chased out of Virginia for religious reasons so he established Lebanon Town (now Georgetown), in Kentucky, in 1786. In 1787, Craig founded a school that is now Kentucky's Georgetown College. In 1789, he established Kentucky's first fulling mill (for making cloth). In 1793, Craig opened Kentucky's first paper plant. In 1795, he started a shipping business on the Kentucky River.

Was Elijah Craig Kentucky's first Bourbon-maker? Probably not, but he was one of Kentucky's first big time entrepreneurs.

I can't imagine the other name your questioner is looking for, though there were undoubtedly many early preachers who distilled. Whiskey making was considered very respectable until about mid-century and, frankly, it was mostly the doing of pesky women that made it disreputable.

- chuck