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A Place for Bourbon? A Geographical Analysis of Bourbon Production in the United States

Authors: Colin Copler*, Texas State University - San Marcos
Topics: United States
Keywords: Bourbon, Diffusion, Urban, Rural
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Bourbon is often referred to as the “American Spirit” and rightly so. In 1964 when congress passed Title 27 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 misnomer 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 main bourbon producing regions in Kentucky. This study will deepen understanding of the relationship that modern distillers, and their bourbon, have with the historical and ideological geography of bourbon.

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