Bourbon: America’s Native Spirit


In May of 1964, the United States Congress declared bourbon whiskey a “distinctive product of the United States.” Distilling whiskey in America began centuries earlier though. Scot-Irish immigrants were some of the first to distill whiskey in American Colonies. The barley they used in Great Britain did not grow well in American soils and so they grew and distilled corn instead. In addition to a corn-based mash, white oak barrel aging, proof limits and aging requirements would all become tenets of bourbon whiskey’s definition. This pathfinder provides an introduction to scholarship on the birth of the American whiskey industry. This pathfinder does not cover moonshining and illicit distilling in great detail. A few titles included here do discuss moonshining and are included to illustrate the place of small-scale whiskey production in the history of the American distilling industry. Most works cited in this pathfinder can be found in either the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection or the main stacks of the Belk Library at Appalachian State University. The location of those titles is indicated in each citation.

Introductory Text: 

Regan, Gary and Mardee Haidin Regan. The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys. Shelburne, VT: Chapters, 1995. p.6-86

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly relevant

Distilleries -- Periodicals

Distillers – Tennessee – Lynchburg – Biography

Distilling Industries – Kentucky – History

Distilling Industries – United States – Statistics

Kentucky – History – Anecdotes

Liquor -- Periodicals

Liquor Industry Executives – Kentucky – Biography

Liquor Industry Executives – Kentucky -- Genealogy


Whiskey – Kentucky – History

Whiskey -- Periodicals

Whiskey – United States

Whiskey – Tennessee – Lynchburg – History

Whiskey – Tennessee – Lynchburg – History

Whiskey Industry – Kentucky – History

Also Relevant

Drinking of Alcoholic Beverages

Library of Congress Call Numbers: 







Carson, Gerald. The Social History of Bourbon. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead, 1963. ASU SPEC APP COLL TP605 .C3

Crowgey, Henry G. Kentucky Bourbon: The Early Years of Whiskeymaking. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2008. ASU SPEC APP COLL TP605.C76 2008

Dabney, Joseph E. Mountain Spirits: A Chronicle of Corn Whiskey from King James’ Ulster Plantation to America’s Appalachians and the Moonshine Life. New York: Scribner, 1974. ASU SPEC APP COLL HD9357 .A2 D32

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Battlo, Jean. “Distilleries.” In Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Edited by Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell, 477-479. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. ASU SPEC APP COLL F106 .E53 2006.

Dabney, Joseph E. “Moonshine.” In Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Edited by Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell, 942-943. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006. ASU SPEC APP COLL F106 .E53 2006.

Lender, Mark Edward. “Liquor Industry.” In The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Edited by Charles Reagan Wilson & William Ferris, 744-745. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989. ASU SPEC COLL F209. E53 1989

Nally, Flaget M. “Bourbon.” In The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Edited by John E. Kleber, 103-104. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. ASU SPEC APP COLL F451.K413 1992 c.2

Weiner, Jonathan M. “Bourbon.” In The Encyclopedia of Southern History. Edited by David C. Roller and Robert W. Twyman, 139-142. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979. ASU SPEC APP COLL F207. 7 .E52

Abstracts and Indices: 


Search For: “Bourbon” and “Whiskey”


Bourbon Country Reader. V. 2-14, 1994-2012. Quarterly. Chicago, IL: Made and Bottled in Kentucky, PMB. Bound back issues available from:


Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau:

Buffalo Trace Oral History Project:

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States:

The Chuck Cowdery Blog:

Kentucky Distillers Association:

Other Sources: 


Krass, Peter. Blood and Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniels. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2004. ASU SPEC APP COLL TP591.D36 K73 2004

Pacult, F. Paul. American Still Life: The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World’s #1 Bourbon. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2003. ASU MAIN STACKS HD9395.U47 J367 2003


Smiley, Ian. Making Pure Corn Whiskey: A Professional Guide for Amateur and Micro Distillers. Canada: Amphora Society, 2003. ASU SPEC APP COLL TP605. S63 2003


United States Statutes at Large. “Bourbon Whiskey Designated as Distinctive Product of U.S.” 1208. Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 1964. ASU REFERENCE KF50. U5x V.78

Compiled by: 

Edward Bourgeois
Fall 2012