American bourbon whiskey in glasses
The Historic Reason Kentucky Is The Bourbon Capital Of The World
Producing 95% of the world's supply of bourbon in 2022, Kentucky is the bourbon capital of the world, with a long history with whiskey and the perfect environment for making it.
All bourbon contains corn, and Kentucky's history with corn starts in 1776, when Virginia passed an act that promised settlers 400 acres of land in Kentucky if they farmed corn.
The opportunity attracted Scottish, Irish, and German immigrants, many of whom turned large amounts of leftover corn into whiskey, which eventually evolved into bourbon.
By the time of the Whiskey Rebellion, two years after Kentucky became a state in 1792, the area had about 500 distilleries run by families that kept making bourbon for generations.
Kentucky is home to sources of water that are ideal for making whiskey — low in iron and high in magnesium and calcium — as well as ideal weather for maturing bourbon in barrels.
Home to numerous rivers and waterways, Kentucky was able to easily transport and sell bourbon across the USA. Today, the state's bourbon industry is worth about $9 billion.