I was wearing one of our Colonel Bourbon t-shirts when someone asked me:
How do you pronounce (Louisville)? Is it Lou-is-ville or Lou-ee-ville?
It is Lou-ee-vull
(Louisville, Kentucky. Wikipedia, public domain.)
I was not in Louisville, Kentucky at the time, or anywhere near the Bluegrass state. Many from elsewhere assume the "ee" pronunciation is just how they say it the South, like my dad would say crick instead of creek, for a shallow stream, where you get that delicious limestone water used in bourbon whiskey. But more on that in a minute.
Or that it has something to do with Louie being a diminutive version of Louis
The origin of the name Louisville, in Kentucky
The reason for the "ee" pronunciation is going to surprise many, but if you are a bourbon enthusiast, it may not. Louisville, Kentucky is named after the French King Louis XVi (1754-1793). In French, the "s" is silent in Louis.
Some may assume it has to do with France's Louisiana Territory, which stretched from the Great Lakes up north to the Gulf of Mexico. But while many U.S. States were include in that territory, which was purchased by the United States from the French First Republic in 1803, Kentucky was not one of them.
Louisville. Kentucky was named after the French King in 1789, in thanks to the French for helping America during the Revolutionary War, in which the new nation gained its independence.
The name "bourbon" has French origins
Throughout the United States, you will find places named "bourbon." The House of Bourbon is a dynasty of French origin, first ruling France in the 16th century. King Louis XVI, who Louisville, KY is named after, was from this royal house.
There is of course Bourbon County in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the common wisdom is that this is where the name of our beloved American whiskey comes from. But like much of bourbon history, the origins are flavored in a healthy, entertaining dose of myth and legend.
More about Louisville, Kentucky
While we know, the region is perfectly located to make bourbon (the limestone water, the hot summers and cool winters for aging), Louisville is also perfectly located in a center of the country, where today it is within a one-day ship time to about 60% of US cities. In fact, the main hub of UPS is located in there.
In fact, Louisville began as a shipping hub. The nearby Falls of the Ohio River was the main barrier for river traffic between the Upper Ohio and the Gulf of Mexico. A settlement around this portage -- land where watercraft must be transported between waterways --was thus founded.
Kentucky Fried Chicken and Kentucky Derby
Yes, both based are in Louisville. Colonel Sanders actually started his restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, which is about two and a half hours from Louisville. But the fried chicken giant is headquarted in Louisville.
Louisville is also known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, first held in 1875. The Mint Julep, the bourbon cocktail, has been associated with the race since the late 1930s. Brown-Foreman, a Louisville-based distiller is the bourbon vendor, with their brands Old Forester and Woodford Reserve providie the spirit. There is a premium Mint Julep sold for $1,000. It is served in gold-plated cups with silver straws. It is said the ice comes from the Bavarian Alps, the mint from Ireland, the Emerald Isle, and the sugar from Australia.
If you prefer to save some money, and make your own at home, a good highball glass will do. Here is the recipe:
MInt Julep Recipe
(The tasty mint julep, the famous bourbon cocktail, a staple at the Kentucky Derby. Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Cocktailmarler.)
- 6 ounce bourbon whiskey
- 4 mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons water
Muddle the mint, sugar and water. Fill glass with cracked ice, add bourbon, stir. Garnish with mint.
Muhammad Ali was born and raised in Louisville in 1942, and began boxing at 12 years old. You can visit his childhood, restored, at 3302 Grand Ave.
Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville
Now to our favorite part.
As we wrote in this blog, "Whiskey Row is an historic district that was once the hub of the bourbon industry. Located between 101 and 133 W. Main Street in Louisville, KY, the block of Chicago-School-style buildings almost got torn down in 2011..."
"Today, with the renaissance of bourbon, the area is a tourist attraction, with luxury apartments, restaurants, upscale hotels, and the Old Forester Distillery which had been located at 119 West Main Street in the 1880s..."
A video of the downtown, urban bourbon trail, Includes a tour of Cooper and Kings, which makes a brandy "influenced by American whiskey and American music." Hip Hop is part of the aging:
(Published by ColonelBourbontshirts.com.)