When the German, Irish, and English settlers began to move West through what was then Virginia, they found natural mineral springs, an abundance of corn, and an environment that lent itself beautifully to the aging process of whiskey. They applied their knowledge of distillation with the raw materials they had available. A predominantly corn mash whiskey aged in new charred oak barrels yields the caramel color and the complexity of the Kentucky bourbon we have today.
There is a purity to the process and the culture of distilling bourbon. The lessons and secrets of the craft have been honed for hundreds of years. Modern technology has facilitated some of the aspects of production and distribution, but the authenticity of the art can still be found in the hills and valleys of Kentucky. There are men dedicated to conserving and sharing the integrity of this American tradition. Like in all disciplines, there are those who wish to muddle the purity of this tradition.
Those who wish to compromise the integrity of this (or any) industry, for financial gain, “modernization”, or perhaps an “expansion of scope” need to understand one thing: good people do not give their allegiance to things without depth. A tradition with a science, an art, and a philosophy, a profession that requires skill and innovation, and a practice that requires patience, discipline, and trust will keep its integrity.
Distillation is the process of extracting the essence of a thing. When all of the nonsense and all of the noise is removed, what remains is the spirit. When this happens in a person it is called satori. When it happens with whiskey it is called bourbon.