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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kentucky Bourbon Affair Celebrates America's Only Native Spirit

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association earlier this month unveiled a new exhibit at the Frazier History Museum showcasing the 1964 Congressional Resolution that designated Bourbon as America’s native spirit.

It’s the first time that Senate Concurrent Resolution 19 has left the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. since it was adopted by Congress on May 4, 1964, said Joe Fraser, Chairman of the KDA Board of Directors.

“Our signature industry is rich with 200 years of history and iconic figures,” said Fraser, who is Vice President of Operations at Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. “But this document, and the action it represents, had a profound effect on our business and our way of life.

“Thanks to this Resolution, no other country can produce a whiskey and call it Bourbon. It led to rigorous treaties that protect the integrity of our craft to this day. Nowhere is that more important than Kentucky – the one, true and authentic home for Bourbon.”

KDA President Eric Gregory said, “This is the Declaration of Independence for Bourbon as it recognizes the fact that Bourbon is distinctly American. It’s one of the most cherished pieces of our history, and we’re proud to have it in the birthplace of Bourbon where it belongs.”

The Resolution is on a six-month loan from the National Archives as part of the Bourbon history exhibit sponsored by the KDA. It also features distillery artifacts such as an Old Forester bottle from 1897, Frederick Stitzel’s patent for barrel ricks and a copper yeast jug from Four Roses.

Mayor Fischer joined dozens of Bourbon barons and Master Distillers at the downtown museum, located along the city’s famed Whiskey Row that is currently experiencing a renaissance with the Bourbon boom.

“We’re thrilled that the Resolution is out of the Archives and in a place where it can be seen and appreciated,” he said. “And no one respects their Bourbon – and Bourbon history – more than the whiskey connoisseurs of Kentucky and Louisville.”

The unveiling also serves as a kick-off for the inaugural Kentucky Bourbon Affair, a five-day Bourbon fantasy camp marking the Resolution’s 50th anniversary. The KDA showcase will feature exclusive distillery tours and one-of-a-kind events to celebrate all things Bourbon.

Dr. Madeleine Burnside, executive director of the Frazier Museum, said the new exhibit hopefully will spur interest in more Bourbon programs and displays. “Bourbon is such a critical part of our heritage, especially here in Louisville. We look forward to doing more to educate visitors about its past, present and future, as well as its economic and cultural benefits.”

The museum, which opened in May 2004, provides an interactive journey with ever-changing exhibits, daily performances by costumed interpreters and numerous special events. It is a member of the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership Program and the American Association of Museums. Learn more at

In keeping with the museum’s educational mission, KDA President Gregory said the new Bourbon exhibit will feature an interactive timeline of the industry’s history and storyboards describing how the Resolution, transportation and strict federal guidelines shaped its future.

Gregory thanked U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Andy Barr for their help in bringing the Resolution to Kentucky. It was introduced in 1964 by their predecessors, Sen. Thurston Morton from Louisville and Rep. John C. Watts from Nicholasville.

Sen. McConnell said he will be introducing a Senate Resolution this week marking the 50th anniversary. “Bourbon is a vital part of Kentucky’s history, responsibly enjoyed by adults all over the world.

“I want to thank the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and the Frazier History Museum for honoring the importance of Bourbon and the thousands of Kentuckians who work in the industry.”

Rep. Barr, a Congressional appointee to the National Historic Publications and Records Commission, said, “Kentucky’s Bourbon industry is enjoying explosive growth, due to demand both here and abroad. This renaissance is the result of Bourbon’s timeless production process and depth of flavor, but also thanks to its status as a uniquely American spirit.”

“This week, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Congress putting that concept into law, and we thank the KDA and all the hardworking men and women in Kentucky who make Bourbon such a great product.”

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, co-founder and chairman of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus, said, “It’s fitting that the 1964 Resolution is now in the Commonwealth, but it doesn’t take an act of Congress to know Kentucky Bourbon is the finest spirit in the nation.”

In declaring Bourbon a “distinctive product of the United States,” the 1964 Resolution cited examples of protected spirits such as “Scotch” as originating in Scotland, “Canadian Whisky” as manufactured in Canada and “Cognac” as grape brandy distilled in the Cognac region of France.

The phrase “America’s native spirit” is not in the actual text. However, as Bourbon whiskey is the only major distilled spirit originating in the United States, the industry historically has used that wording to capture the meaning of the Resolution.

“No other spirit in America has received this distinction, and no other has mirrored the course of American history like Bourbon,” Gregory said. “We hope everyone visits the Frazier to see this piece of history and toasts the growing global success of our legendary Kentucky spirit.”

Additional Links:
Bourbon Facts
KyCorn's stake in the bourbon industry



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