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  • Barrell Craft Spirits



Bourbon County, Kentucky, sure sounds like the kind of place that would be packed full of distilleries. And at one time, it was. Before Prohibition, Bourbon County was home to dozens of whiskey distilleries, all shipping casks of a distinctive spirit made mostly from corn that they called bourbon.

Today, the situation is very different.

Today’s Bourbon County in the state of Kentucky is much smaller than the original Bourbon County, which was created in 1785 as part of Virginia. That OG Bourbon County got its name from the French House of Bourbon, who’d played a supporting role in the American Revolutionary war. It was much, much larger than the current Bourbon County, encompassing broad swaths of what would eventually become Kentucky, as well as a hefty chunk of modern-day Virginia.

The area was a hotbed of distilling. Even after Kentucky became a state in 1792 and ended up with the official Bourbon County, which shrunk to a much more modest size, the larger region of “Old Bourbon County” continued to stencil “Old Bourbon” on the charred oak barrels of distilled spirits they shipped around the world.

Prohibition, however, put an end to all that. Virtually all bourbon production in the Bluegrass State, as well as Virginia, ceased when the 18th amendment took effect, including every single distillery that had been operating in Bourbon County. By the time Prohibition ended in 1933, not a single bourbon distillery was left in a county that had given the distinctive product its name.

Need a quick refresher about what bourbon is, exactly? Bourbon is an American whiskey that must be a product of the United States. It must be distilled from at least 51% corn, aged in charred new oak barrels at no higher than 125 proof, and bottled at no less than 40% alcohol by volume. While Kentucky and bourbon are practically synonymous, it can be made in any state in the country.

Today, of course, bourbon is back–in Bourbon County, and beyond. Barrell Craft Spirits is proud to be a part of the national bourbon renaissance. While we’re not located in Bourbon County (just one active bourbon producer now calls the county home), we’re happy to play a part in carrying on the tradition started in Kentucky and Virginia way back in the 18th century.

Want to experience the flavor of “Old Bourbon” for yourself? Shop our releases online. Every single Barrell Craft Spirits product is released at cask strength, without chill filtration, and with maximal focus on flavor. Some of our current faves?

Barrell Bourbon Batch 030, our latest small batch release. This blend of straight bourbon whiskeys from Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Wyoming shows off old-school character with sweet cider apples, peach, coconut, and oatmeal cookies, finishing with caramel and milk chocolate.

Barrell Bourbon Private Release Bourbon A39A. Part of a series that explores the nuances and complexity of blending aged bourbons, this bottling contains bourbons aged for five, nine, 13, and 15 years, giving it that perfect balance between youthful freshness and mature opulence.

Barrell Armida, a unique blend of straight bourbon whiskeys finished separately in pear brandy, Jamaican rum, and Sicilian Amaro casks. Floral, spicy, citrusy, and a little bit tropical, this whiskey made founder Joe Beatrice so nostalgic for childhood summers at the family orchard that he named it after his mother, Armida.


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