Bourbon and springs in the Inner Bluegrass region of Kentucky
Ashley M. Barton, Cory W. Black Eagle, Alan E. Fryar, 2012. "Bourbon and springs in the Inner Bluegrass region of Kentucky", On and around the Cincinnati Arch and Niagara Escarpment, Michael R. Sandy, Daniel Goldman
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This field trip explores the role of geology in the origins and production of a distinctly American distilled spirit. Bourbon whiskey originated in the late 1700s and early 1800s in the Bluegrass region of north-central Kentucky. The Inner Bluegrass is marked by fertile, residual soils developed on karstified Ordovician limestones. Corn was grown, ground, fermented, and distilled to yield a high-value product that would not spoil. The chemistry of limestone water (dilute calcium-bicarbonate type with near-neutral pH) limits dissolved iron and promotes fermentation. Many farms and settlements were located near perennial springs, whose relatively cool temperatures (~13–15 °C) facilitated condensation of steam during distillation. We will visit three historically significant springs. Royal Spring in Georgetown was an early site of whiskey production and is one of the few springs in Kentucky still used for municipal water supply. McConnell Springs was the purported site of Lexington’s founding and occupies a karst window in which distilleries once operated. Cove Spring in Frankfort was the site of the first public water supply west of the Allegheny Mountains. We will also tour two distilleries: Woodford Reserve (among the oldest and smallest in the state, and a National Historic Landmark) and Four Roses (listed on the National Register of Historic Places).
Figures & Tables
This volume, produced in conjunction with the GSA North-Central Section Meeting held in Dayton, Ohio, April 2012, has a mix of papers, ranging from stratigraphy, paleontology, and hydrogeology, to geomorphology, drainage basins, and building stones. The geographic spread of the chapters focuses mainly on an area bounded by those counties adjacent to Montgomery County, but also extends beyond-from Paulding County in the north to Georgetown, Kentucky, in the south. Topics include the Silurian stratigraphy of southwestern Ohio, drainage basins of the Mad River and Little Miami River, the relationship between geology and groundwater of the Inner Bluegrass Region, Kentucky (and its connection to the distilling and aging of bourbon), and the building stones of Dayton, as well as an introduction to the geology of the Dayton area.