Celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month

Declaring bourbon “America’s Native Spirit,” the U.S. Senate established National Bourbon Heritage Month in September 2007.

Louisville Water Company has a long history of celebrating this Native Spirit and supporting the bourbon industry. In 1869, two distilleries were listed as having metered connections with the company.  By 1880, six distilleries used our water, escalating to a peak of 27 in 1901.

About 20 distilleries operate in our service area today, and water plays a critical role in the Kentucky bourbon experience from the start of the distilling process to the last sip from a glass.

Louisville Water often partners with distillers for tours and special events. For instance, during the recent GLI Familiarization Tour, which positioned Louisville as a top destination for expanding or relocating a company, economic development site consultants participated in a water tasting as well as a bourbon tasting.

At Jim Beam’s American Outpost in Bullitt County, Louisville Water Vice President Kelley Dearing Smith led the site consultants through the water tasting, comparing the taste of Louisville Pure Tap® to a commercial bottled water. In between sips of water, guests sampled two of Beam’s best-selling bourbons (which are made with Pure Tap).

“The consultants were amazed at a drinking water utility that talked about its product in such an orchestrated way,” Dearing Smith said. “One consultant from Dallas commented on how smart this is considering ‘housing and water’ are drivers in economic development.”

Dearing Smith also pointed out that Louisville Water is a regional water supplier that helps grow the regional economy – especially by supporting industries that rely on a plentiful supply of high-quality water.

Earlier this year, Louisville Water kicked off its Water Grows KY campaign with a water tasting at the Third Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference, which was held in collaboration with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. (Louisville Water is a Partner Member of the association.) Describing Pure Tap, Beam Institute attendees used the words “earthy” and “plain,” a perfect palette for distillers when mixing with other ingredients.

According to Louisville Water scientist Mark Campbell, “The calcium content and alkalinity of Louisville Water is good for bourbon production, but we also minimize levels of problematic metals, such as iron. While iron is not an issue until the barrel maturation process, it must be removed to maintain an acceptable color profile.”

For more information, check out the bourbon section on our website, and consider celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month by raising a glass to not only bourbon’s history but also its continuing contributions to Kentucky’s economy.