Here’s to the “Bourbon Legend”

© Decatur Wine & Spirits

© Decatur Wine & Spirits

Bourbon whiskey is pretty much badass. Not only is it uniquely an American spirit, but it also has been known, historically, to suppress coughs, add flavor to other liquors and beers, and not to mention, its distilleries were used to produce penicillin. Bourbon also made a guest appearance on Star Trek as Captain Kirk and Spock downed the amber liquid during a Wild West gunfight episode.

Its origin

Back in the1700’s, Scottish and Irish immigrants, who were also pretty B.A., began making whiskeys and distilling bourbon in Bourbon, Kentucky, which, ironically is mistakenly thought to be a dry county today ( A popular saying: “You can get a drink in Christian County but not in Bourbon County,” has led to this bourbon legend. Actually, Bourbon is a “wet” county, but no longer has any operating bourbon distilleries.

Painting by Emanuel Leutze

Painting by Emanuel Leutze

Supporting the troops

When the British were putting a halt to importing sugar and molasses, which were key for Rum production, colonists began to make bourbon instead.

Soldiers greatly appreciated it and took to bourbon during the Revolutionary War (sexcigarsbooze).

Medicinal magic (or so we thought)

In the 1800’s and into the earlier 1900’s, doctors also liked the smooth aspect of bourbon in terms of a cough suppressant. They often prescribed it — even to children. In fact, bourbon was such a popular way to treat coughs and sore throats that it was the only liquor, along with other whiskies and sacramental wine, that was legal from 1920-1933 during Prohibition. However, you had to have a doctor’s prescription to get the “Medical Bourbon.”

Today, doctors do not recommend alcohol as medicine, pointing out that it causes dehydration. Despite warnings from the medical community, people still make bourbon Hot Toddies to combat a cough and throat tickle. Additionally, in general, many people like the warming effect bourbon brings on.

“It definitely gives you a really warm rush throughout your body. It really warms you up; that’s why it’s a winter drink,” says bourbon fan Alison Manthey.

“I totally understand why the men with the funny little Scotty hats sat at the bar and sipped whiskey in Ireland when it was freezing and cold,” she adds.

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