Jack, Jim, and Pappy: The 6 Names Every American Whiskey Drinker Should Know

While there were illicit stills and unregulated distilling outfits, the first recorded distilleries in what is now the United States sprung up in the late 1700s in modern day Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

While Buffalo Trace has the claim as the oldest, continuously operating distillery in the US, Evan Williams was the first to open a commercial distillery in Kentucky. Whiskey distilling was such a big deal in the late 1700s that even George Washington had stills built at Mount Vernon. Originally installed to make rum, they were later used to make rye whiskey after Washington’s Scottish-born plantation manager James Anderson convinced Washington to grow the crop and use it to make whiskey (rye would go on to become an important part of early American distilling).

These days, bourbon and other types of American whiskey are engrained in American culture just like apple pie, free beverage refills, sales tax, and red Solo cups–from budget-friendly bourbons to splurge-worthy bottles. But there were (and are) a handful of pioneers who have helped bourbon, rye, and other whiskey varieties grow in the country. These are the names you’ll see browsing liquor store shelves, and the ones that you should know a little backstory about.


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