March 17, 2020
25 b&w photos, 33 maps, 8 graphs, 13 figures, 30 tables
10.00 Inches (US)
7.00 Inches (US)
2.8 Pounds (US)
$60.00 USD, £50.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Making Bourbon

A Geographical History of Distilling in Nineteenth-Century Kentucky

While other industries chase after the new and improved, bourbon makers celebrate traditions that hearken back to an authentic frontier craft. Distillers enshrine local history in their branding and time-tested recipes, and rightfully so. Kentucky's unique geography shaped the whiskeys its settlers produced, and for more than two centuries, distilling bourbon fundamentally altered every aspect of Kentucky's landscape and culture.

Making Bourbon: A Geographical History of Distilling in Nineteenth-Century Kentucky illuminates how the specific geography, culture, and ecology of the Bluegrass converged and gave birth to Kentucky's favorite barrel-aged whiskey. Expanding on his fall 2019 release Bourbon's Backroads, Karl Raitz delivers a more nuanced discussion of bourbon's evolution by contrasting the fates of two distilleries in Scott and Nelson Counties. In the nineteenth century, distilling changed from an artisanal craft practiced by farmers and millers to a large-scale mechanized industry. The resulting infrastructure—farms, mills, turnpikes, railroads, steamboats, lumberyards, and cooperage shops—left its permanent mark on the land and traditions of the commonwealth. Today, multinational brands emphasize and even construct this local heritage. This unique interdisciplinary study uncovers the complex history poured into every glass of bourbon.

About the Author

Karl Raitz is professor emeritus of geography at the University of Kentucky and author of Bourbon's Backroads: A Journey through Kentucky's Distilling Landscape. He is coeditor of The Great Valley Road of Virginia: Shenandoah Landscapes from Prehistory to the Present and coauthor of Rock Fences of the Bluegrass.


"Bringing his keen geographer's eye to a truly American topic, Karl Raitz examines the rich story of distilling in its Kentucky heartland and traces its maturation from a local craft to an enduring industry. This veteran scholar of the American scene brings to life the distilling landscape and links it to both the fascinating people and the ecological settings that made such an industry possible. Like a fine Kentucky bourbon, savor every sip of this delicious book!"—William Wyckoff, author of How to Read the American West: A Field Guide

"Making Bourbon, a comprehensive analysis of Kentucky distilling's deep roots in ecology, heritage, technology, and place, exemplifies geographical thinking at its finest. Author Karl Raitz excavates the mythical whiskey landscape to fathom the work of nineteenth-century farmer-miller-distillers who assembled folk knowledge, raw materials, and technical innovation to produce, market, and ship whiskey—processes that would shape a unique regional landscape for centuries to come."—Joseph S. Wood, author of The New England Village

"Karl Raitz's Making Bourbon is a gem. The depth of Raitz's research and the breadth of his analysis

have produced a masterful telling of the shift from craft to industrial distilling. And in telling us the

story of bourbon, Raitz also makes a terrific contribution to our understanding of America's

nineteenth-century economy."—David E. Hamilton, author of From New Day to New Deal: American Farm Policy from Hoover to Roosevelt, 1928-1933

"This is a wonderful trek across the geographical history of Kentucky bourbon landscape evolution. The familiar present has deep roots in the past. Raitz details with care and admirable clarity how the past remains present in the products and places of Kentucky's history and landscapes. He carefully traces the most important tangible characteristics while also highlighting the distillers' traditions, values, and practices. This will be a valuable sourcebook for all who are fascinated by this iconic American beverage."—Stephen Birdsall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Making Bourbon is at once a delightful read and an informative reference book on Kentucky whiskey makers. Raitz's affection for Kentucky and his authority as a renowned geographer permeates every page. He provides a compelling case for further scholarship of this kind or an excuse to settle down into a cozy seat with his book and a glass of bourbon."—Ohio Valley History

"A well-researched and comprehensive analysis, taking a very deep dive into the Kentucky ecosphere that made bourbon possible."—Drink Hacker

9780813178752 : making-bourbon-raitz
656 Pages
$60.00 USD

Other Titles by Karl Raitz

Bourbon's Backroads

Karl Raitz
Sep 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$29.95 USD - Hardback
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text

Kentucky's Frontier Highway

Karl Raitz, Nancy O'Malley
Nov 2012 - University Press of Kentucky
$40.00 USD - Hardback
$40.00 USD - Electronic book text
$40.00 USD - Electronic book text

Atlas of Kentucky

edited by Richard Ulack, Karl Raitz, Gyula Pauer
May 1998 - University Press of Kentucky
$39.95 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in HISTORY / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)

The Antislavery Movement in Kentucky

Lowell H. Harrison
Dec 2025 - University Press of Kentucky
$15.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$35.00 USD - Electronic book text


John D. Wright, Jr.
Dec 2025 - University Press of Kentucky
$30.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$45.00 USD - Electronic book text


Richard Taylor
Apr 2022 - University Press of Kentucky
$30.00 USD - Hardback
$30.00 USD - Electronic book text
$21.95 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in History: specific events & topics

Romani Liberation

Jan Selling
Apr 2022 - Central European University Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback

Communist Gourmet

Albena Shkodrova
May 2021 - Central European University Press, an imprint of Central European University Press
$27.50 USD - Paperback / softback

A Brief History of Northern Kentucky

Robert D. Webster, foreword by Paul A. Tenkotte
Sep 2019 - South Limestone, an imprint of University Press of Kentucky
$29.95 USD - Hardback
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text