Bourbon is a booming business in Kentucky. The $9 billion industry fuels the economy and drives tourism across the state. So much so that on September 5, Governor Andy Beshear proclaimed September Bourbon Heritage Month in the Bluegrass. With Kentucky producing 95% of the world’s bourbon supply, we can certainly raise a glass to that!
Louisville Pure Tap® and Kentucky bourbon make a perfect pair because you can’t have great bourbon without great water. Louisville Water’s history with the native spirit flows all the way back to the late 1800s. By 1880, six distilleries used Louisville Water, escalating to a peak of 27 in 1901. Fast forward to today and Pure Tap® is used at nearly 20 distilleries to craft their bourbon blends, or as some Kentuckians call it brown water.
Hundreds of bourbon connoisseurs and enthusiasts from all over the country flocked to Louisville in late August and early September for two exclusive events: the Bourbon Women Association’s SIPosium and the Black Bourbon Society’s Bourbon Boule.
Sharon Williams is involved with both organizations. She travelled from Atlanta for her first Bourbon Boule experience.
“Everybody kept talking about it. They said you need to go to Kentucky. You need to go to Louisville. That’s where the action is,” Williams said.
Guests were quickly introduced to Pure Tap with a reusable Louisville Water bottle and quick access to special “barrel coolers” of ice-cold water displaying “Bourbon’s Best Friend.”
“This is our first year partnering with Louisville Water. It is a very important partnership to have,” said Samara B. Davis, founder of the Black Bourbon Society. “Not only is it you have to be hydrated while also imbibing and enjoying our native spirit, but Louisville Water, Kentucky water is the most amazing water you could ever have in the first place.”
In addition to bourbon tastings, educational classes, and distillery tours, the SIPosium offered a water tasting.
Louisville Water Vice President of Marketing and Communications Kelley Dearing Smith led the lesson.
“Guests learned a little of the science of producing drinking water – which includes a taste test of bottled water, spring water, and Louisville Pure Tap. This experience wasn’t about picking Pure Tap (or which water they preferred), although there were several in the crowd who yelled “that’s Pure Tap” when they tasted Louisville’s drinking water. Rather, the tasting was more about understanding the differences in water,” Smith explained.
Bourbon educator Tobie Brown agreed water is absolutely a key ingredient.
“If you don’t have a good water source and if you don’t have great-tasting water, it’s going to affect that main product that Kentucky has – providing the world with 95% of its bourbon,” she said.
Davis’ passion for bourbon grew into much more than sipping it and learning the basics of how it’s made.
“When I came into this industry seven years ago, there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me in this space and there wasn’t a lot of marketing geared towards people like me in this space. I created Black Bourbon Society because I wanted to cultivate this community,” she shared.
Louisville Tourism sponsored the Bourbon Boule kickoff luncheon which included a history lesson about Louisville native, Elmer Lucille Allen, the first Black (and female) chemist at Brown-Forman Corporation. The 92-year-old graciously accepted the inaugural Black Spirits of Excellence Award.
With two back-to-back weekends celebrating bourbon with visitors in Louisville, Louisville Tourism Bureau President Cleo Battle is excited about expanding the city’s footprint in the industry.
“As we continue to grow this brand that has really elevated nationally and beginning to elevate locally, it’s good that we begin to see groups come to town. Because their members begin to tell our story,” Battle said.
There are still more bourbon celebrations to be had in September. Thursday kicks off the Bourbon & Beyond music festival in Louisville. Bring your own reusable bottle for unlimited pours of Louisville Pure Tap throughout the four-day event. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival also gets underway in Bardstown on Thursday.
Louisville Water encourages you to drink responsibly. After one beverage, make sure to add in two glasses of Louisville Pure Tap® to your drink rotation.