The State of Bourbon

The State of Bourbon

Exploring the Spirit of Kentucky
Cameron M. Ludwick and Blair Thomas Hess, photographs by Elliott Hess
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/11/2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03781-7
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Welcome to Kentucky, where bourbon barrels outnumber residents. After all, bourbon is Kentucky—its craftsmanship and flavors cannot be separated from the culture and history of the state. Discover that culture and history—and enjoy great food, fabulous drinks, and incredible people—on your own Kentucky bourbon road trip.

The State of Bourbon showcases the region's finest distilleries as well as the local restaurants, hotels, parks, and adventures that every bourbon lover needs to experience. Bluegrass natives Cameron M. Ludwick and Blair Thomas Hess highlight some of their favorite stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the Urban Bourbon Trail, and the Craft Bourbon Trail, at stills and rick houses where the history and heritage of the nation's only native spirit come to life. Not just a trail or tasting guide, The State of Bourbon will lead you across Kentucky, through the history of the spirit, and into your own bourbon adventure.

Author Bio

Cameron M. Ludwick is a bookworm, trivia nerd, and former band geek who still relies on the survival skills she learned at Girl Scout camp to cope with nature. A Kentucky native, she now has bigger hair and lives in Austin, Texas.

Blair Thomas Hess is a born-and-bred Kentuckian who once won a sack-the-pig contest at the Trigg County Country Ham Festival. She resides in Frankfort, Kentucky, with her daughter and her picture-taking, bourbon-collecting husband.

Together, these long-time friends travel across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, exploring its various wonders and uncovering its best-kept secrets. Follow the adventure at and on Twitter (@MyOldKYRoadTrip) and Instagram (@myoldkentuckyroadtrip).


“An essential addition to the library of anyone considering a trip to Kentucky to explore bourbon country, and a must have for any Kentuckian who will inevitably have out of town guests looking for bourbon related adventures. Cheers!
 — New York Journal of Books

    "Not just a trail or tasting guide, The State of Bourbon will lead the reader on a kind of armchair travel adventure across Kentucky, through the history of the spirit, and into a personal bourbon adventure."”
     — MBR Bookwatch

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    Table of Contents



    Part I: Bourbon Firsts

    1. The First Kentucky Bourbon

    2. The State’s First Bourbon Distillery

    3. The First Sour Mash Recipe

    4. The First Distillery to Use the Steam-Powered Distillation Process

    5. The First Bourbon to Be Bottled and Sealed for Sale

    Part II: Kentucky’s River Towns

    6. Louisville

    7. Maysville

    8. The Jackson Purchase

    Part III: Prohibition and Beyond

    9. Prohibition in Kentucky

    10. Medicinal Bourbon Permits

    11. The Impact of Kentucky Bourbon on WWII

    12. The Distiller’s Association and the Modern Bourbon Industry

    Appendix: A Glossary of Bourbon Terms