February 7, 2009

A Tribute to Elijah Craig As A Symbol Of Bourbon's Origins

There is some debate whether or not Elijah Craig, the man and not the bourbon of his namesake, created bourbon. Craig was born in Virginia and was a distiller and a Baptist preacher. Craig later moved to Kentucky where he continued to distill whiskey and is said to have run a mill to grind corn which was used in the early production of what became known as bourbon. He is also credited with being the first whiskey distiller to age his liquor in charred oak casks, thus laying the foundation for the rules of bourbon-making as we know them today and perhaps giving him his "Father of Bourbon" moniker. History being an imperfect thing, the single inventor of bourbon may never be truly known. However, I consider Craig's legend to be the symbol of bourbon's heritage in America; an honor that deserves respectful recognition. His image should hang above every bourbon-lover's fireplace. Or liquor cabinet. Or favorite recliner. Or above this post for simplicity's sake. But, I digress.

Other sources indicate that Craig was not the founding father of bourbon, or at least was one of many, many bourbon makers of his day. Wherever the truth lies, who cares? Really. That we have a symbol of bourbon's creation is enough for me. Enjoying bourbon whiskey is not an objective, formulaic endeavor and neither should be its history. Perhaps subjectivity confounds the purpose of "history," but it absolutely lends itself to the enjoyment of bourbon. And the fact that critique, debate, and individual disagreement surround Craig's title as Inventor of Bourbon makes him a perfect figurehead to represent the subleties of bourbon enjoyment.

1 comment:

  1. it's good. having spent 15 yrs near Bardstown, 10 in Bourbon Co., I appreciate a good bourbon.