Back in the early 1990s The University Press of Kentucky assembled a team to write an encyclopedia about the city of Louisville. They hired freelance writers, graduate students and experts in particular subjects to write the articles. I was asked to write the main article on the Bourbon industry in Louisville and several other specific distillery or distiller articles, but other writers contributed articles about particular families such as the Browns and I.W. Bernheim. It is a book that everyone interested in Kentucky’s distilling heritage should own. I am often looking up a subject in the Louisville Encyclopedia when I am writing a blog – not only the distilling subjects. It is often important to know something about what was going on in the city in other fields that have an impact on the distilling industry.
The Encyclopedia of Louisville, edited by John E. Kleber. The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky. 2001. Preface, Introduction, Index, Illustrated, pp.988.
This book is filled with individual articles about places and the people who shaped the history of the city of Louisville, Kentucky and its surrounding Counties on both sides of the Ohio River. There are articles dealing with everything from Accounting to the YMCA. There are maps showing the locations of specific neighborhoods and a multitude of photographs. A very informative volume when it comes to understanding the city that Bourbon Built.
There are many articles that are of interest to the Bourbon enthusiast. These include a general article on the history of distilling in Louisville as well as articles about individual distillers and distilleries. The Encyclopedia contains pieces on people such as George Garvin Brown, Julian P. Van Winkle and Alexander Thurman Farnsley and companies such as Brown-Forman, Four Roses and James Thompson and Bro. The articles are informative and often give suggested reading selections.
This book should be part of any bourbon library. It helps the reader with individual histories of companies as well as the events that were happening in the city in which they did business. Where else are you going to find out about the Poisoned Wedding or Jennie Carter Benedict – the creator of the Benedictine sandwich? The book is a wealth of knowledge about everything Louisville.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller