A Legendary Pair

As two of Kentucky's signature industries, horse racing and bourbon have been tied together throughout history. Some in the bourbon business were involved with track management, as is the case with Lawrence Lavalle Jones of Four Roses. Beginning in 1928, Jones sat on the board of the American Turf Association, a former holding company for Churchill Downs. There are also instances where distillers were owners of Thoroughbreds, which is the case with James E. Pepper, a mid-19th century distiller who owned 1892 Kentucky Oaks winner Miss Dixie and also had two starters in the Kentucky Derby.

But, perhaps, the ties between bourbon and horse racing are even more predominant in folklore. Historian Mike Veach notes there are four pillars of Kentucky society that originated in the 19th century: bourbon, horses, tobacco and pretty women. All apparently tie back to the calcium-rich limestone water of the bluegrass. These four pillars appear in various incarnations throughout Kentucky's history. For example, in the early 20th century's Irvin S. Cobb's Own Recipe Book, native Kentuckian, author and humorist Irvin S. Cobb is introduced as being "...born and bred in ol' Kaintucky, where prime Bourbon ranks with beautiful women and fast horses as the favored toast of the citizenry."

To celebrate Bourbon Month, try a Mint Julep or the Derby Cafe's Palmer Julep:

MINT JULEP 2 cups sugar 2 cups water Sprigs of fresh mint Crushed ice 2 oz Kentucky Bourbon Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Kentucky Bourbon. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.