A Place for Bourbon? A Geographical Analysis of Bourbon Production in the United States
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Bourbon is often referred to as the “American Spirit” and rightly so. In 1964 when congress passed Title twenty-seven of the code of Federal Regulations legally protecting bourbon as a distinctly American product, limiting its bounds of production to the United States. Despite this, there is a common misunderstanding that bourbon must be produced in Kentucky, which leads to a unique dichotomy between the true geography and the understood cultural geography of bourbon. At present, however, there has been little if any research on the spatial distribution and character of the bourbon industry’s expansion. This study utilizes a survey of bourbon distillers across America as well as a site suitability analysis to better understand the relationship between the current distribution of bourbon distillers and the historical narrative of bourbon. This study also utilizes the concept of terroir to assess if bourbon distilleries have situated themselves in settings reminiscent of the predominant bourbon producing regions in Kentucky, thus exploring the relationship between modern distillers, the bourbon they produce, and the historical and perceived geographies of bourbon.