A Baptist Minister Invented Bourbon
In the frontier woodlands that was Kentucky during the late 1700s, cash and coin was rare and bartering was a common method of doing business. Many ministers were paid tithes in grain, which became a lot of grain. It became more than any church could consume and therefore many of the ministers went into the distillery business. One of these ministers, Elijah Craig, ran a small distillery in what was then called Bourbon County. Elijah Craig was notoriously cheap. One day he had an idea to burn out the insides of the oak barrels he aged his whiskey in so that he could get more use out of them. He quickly found that people seemed to like the flavor imparted by the burnt barrels better than the regular oak aged whiskey, and thus bourbon whiskey was born.
The ironic part is that Baptists later became the champions of the temperance movement and Bourbon County, now called Scott County (just a few counties over from us), has a large Baptist population. The birthplace of bourbon whiskey is today dry as a bone. Although technically a dry county, legend has it that several casks of Elijah Craig's original bourbon were placed inside the columns of the administration building of the equally Baptist Georgetown College (which Craig had founded).
See also: How Bourbon Got It's Name from our March 2006 issue.