Times Kentucky Whisky
History behind Early Times Kentucky Whisky Early
Times Kentucky Whisky, first distilled in 1860 outside of
Bardstown, Kentucky, is a smooth whisky known for its rich
heritage and mild taste profile. Although the year 1860 congers
up images of "early times" today, at the time,
the brand’s original distillers believed the industry
was turning too modern, too quickly, and wanted a brand that
captured the "good old days." Thus, the brand
name Early Times was selected to remind consumers of the old-fashioned
methods of making whisky - mashing grain in small tubs and
boiling the beer and whisky in copper stills over open fires.
Early Times Distillery Company
850 Dixie Highway
Louisville, KY 40210
Telephone: (502) 585-1100
Viewer's Comments about Early Times
While Early Times is now made with modern methods, its
name still invokes images of the good old days and still
provides a welcome reward at the end of a hard day’s
Early Times Distillery In the beginning,
the Early Times Distillery, located near Bardstown, Kentucky,
was filling a mere 5 barrels a day all which were sold in
the Bardstown area. As demand for the brand increased, sales
expanded to encompass surrounding cities and states.
The Early Times Distillery and its contents changed hands
several times over the years and were eventually sold from
S.L. Guthrie to the Brown-Forman Distilling Company in 1923.
Although Brown-Forman never operated the old Distillery,
it did ship the Early Times barrel inventory to Louisville
and bottled it as medicinal bourbon. Brown-Forman sold the
Distillery and its surrounding farmland to local farmers.
In 1935 Brown-Forman began crafting Early Times once again
at its existing distillery outside of Louisville, Kentucky.
In 1940 production was shifted to Brown-Forman's Old Kentucky
Distillery in Shively, Kentucky. Over the years this facility
was enlarged and improved and was renamed the Early Times
Distillery in 1953.
While the Early Times Distillery still remains at the same
location, it has since been renamed the Brown-Forman Distillery
to encompass all brands produced at the site, including
Old Forester bourbon.
Early Times Station – Full Steam Ahead
Early Times Station, still featured on the brand’s
label today, was created in 1860 to service the Distillery.
The L&N railroad, which stopped at Early Times Station
ran from Bardstown, Kentucky to Springfield, Kentucky, carrying
grain in and whisky out. The Station closed in 1918 when
the Distillery was shut down due to WWI grain rationing.
A Kentucky Whisky is Born In 1983 the
brand changed from a Kentucky bourbon to a Kentucky whisky,
when Brown-Forman, the only distilling company who now owns
its own cooperage, took advantage of its custom barrels
and achieved the perfect mix of seasoned and new barrels
for use in the maturation process of Early Times. (By law,
whisky can only be called "bourbon" if it is
aged in new, charred white oak barrels). By allowing the
whisky to mature in seasoned barrels,
Brown-Forman was able to achieve a smooth, mellow taste,
one which Early Times fans have come to know and love. While
Early Times Kentucky Whisky reins king in the U.S., Early
Times bourbon is still sold in select export markets.
Early Times to Modern Times From five
barrels a day to the fourth largest Kentucky Straight Whisky
in the world, Early Times has enjoyed a long rich history.
Still true to its Kentucky roots, it is now sold in 28 countries
around the world and proudly serves as the "Official
Drink of the Kentucky Derby."
Courtesy of Early Times Kentucky
EARLY TIMES KENTUCKY WHISKY
Light, bright honey.
Taste: Smooth and
creamy malt character with a light oak sweetness and
herbal grass notes.
Nose: A fresh, sharp
oak note ripens into a dry clove spice and hay,
hints of leather, dill spice and fruit add complexity
to a subtle foundation of white chocolate.
Mild and clean, fulfilling with a very pleasant
soft, apple peel character.
The Peak of Perfection At Early Times we constantly
work toward this goal - "the peak of perfection"
- in every step as we craft our whisky. Our unique
grain recipe with its greater-than-average rye content,
use of pure water to cook our grains, proprietary
yeast fermentation, batch distillation and consistently
controlled maturation in company-crafted barrels all
contribute their part. These assure you that Early
Times will always have that same smooth flavor that
has made it a favorite of whisky drinkers over the
EARLY TIMES MINT JULEP
Early Times Mint Julep Cocktail
is a ready-to-serve beverage that has been "The
Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby® for 20
years. Each year almost 120,000 Early Times Mint
Juleps are served over the two-day period of the
Kentucky Oaks® and Kentucky Derby®.
A feat that requires over 10,000 bottles of Early
Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000
pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds
of ice. Try one and you’ll understand why
we’ve been a Kentucky Derby® tradition
for so long.
The Mint Julep has always been a symbol of Kentucky's
rich heritage and hospitality. Perhaps General Simon
Bolivar Buckner put it best when he wrote from the
South Pacific during World War II: "A Mint
Julep is not the product of a formula. It is a ceremony
that must be performed by one possessing a true
sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the
ingredients and a proper appreciation of the occasion."
Many Kentuckians claim that when a Julep is done
right, you can hear the angels sing. One 19th-century
jurist is said to have ruled, "Who has not
tasted one has lived in vain." Then again,
newspaper editor Henry Watterson's recipe for the
perfect Mint Julep is somewhat different, his recipe:
"…throw the other ingredients away and
drink the whisky - straight."
At this time, the Early Times Distillery does not offer
tours and is not open to the public. However, to find out
more about how Early Times achieves its rich flavor and
incredible smoothness, we have provided an online distillery
Early Times Online Tour
Stop 1: America's Spirit
Kentuckians have been distilling whisky since 1776, the
very year our country was founded. Early Times was first
distilled in 1860 and has been enjoyed ever since. Even
during Prohibition, when it was sold legally as a medicinal
whisky! Stop 2: The Early Times Recipe
Early Times is crafted from a traditional whisky
mashbill, or recipe, of corn, rye and malted barley. Rye
adds a spicy, lively character to whisky. Corn adds sweetness.
Malted barley gives it a malty, cocoa, cereal taste. The
Early Times mashbill contains more rye than many other whisky
Stop 3: Mashing
After grinding, the corn is cooked with water and set-back,
which is leftover ingredients from previous batches of Early
Times. This process is called mashing. It's what makes Early
Times a sour mash whisky. Every whisky made in Kentucky
uses a sour mash process.
Stop 4: Limestone Water
Whisky must be made with iron-free water. Kentucky
is famous for its limestone water which is mineral rich,
yet removes iron from water. The Early Times distillery
uses purified limestone water which allows the character
of the grain recipe and flavors to shine through.
Stop 5: Proprietary Yeast
Early Times uses a proprietary strain of yeast
to ferment its sour mash and convert its natural sugars
into alcohol. Our unique yeast strain produces a very clean
spirit that has hints of citrus and ripe apple fruit notes.
These combine with the spice notes derived from the rye
grain to create a wide range of pleasing flavors.
Stop 6: Distiller's Beer
The fermented grain mash, or "Distiller's
Beer," must be distilled to separate the spirit from
the "beer." During distillation, the "beer"
is exposed to steam heat in a still which vaporizes the
spirit from the grain solids, water and yeast. Then the
vapor is redistilled and condensed as a new whisky. The
new whisky is then pumped into a cistern room where it is
reduced to a designated proof and prepared for barreling.
Stop 7: The Still
The shape, style and even the material a still
is made of also affect the flavor. Early Times Distillery
uses a column still and thumper to craft its new whisky.
This process removes any remaining solid grains, water and
yeast. These leftover ingredients become the mash, or set-back,
which is used to "sour" the next batch.
Stop 8: The Barrel
Only charred American white oak barrels are used
to mature Early Times. In fact, Brown-Forman is the only
bourbon making company in the world that makes its own barrels
in order to control the quality of its whisky. Each barrel
is toasted and charred so the new whisky can develop an
even greater range of taste, aroma and characteristics.
The toasting process sets up the rich vanilla flavor found
in Early Times, while the charring process caramelizes the
white oak's natural wood sugars into a layer of flavor we
call "red layer."
Stop 9: Maturation
Maturation will contribute wood and sweet characteristics
to the whisky as well as ripening fruit notes and mellowing
any rough elements. Barrels of new whisky are stored in
warehouses to "mature," not to "age."
Age is important only insofar as how long it takes the whisky
to mature. Cycling, which is the expansion and contraction
of the whisky into and out of the "red layer"
behind the char in the barrel, brings about maturation.
Raise the temperature and the whisky expands, lower it and
the whisky contracts. This is one cycle.
Stop 10: The Warehouse
What the warehouse is made of, where it is located
and how it is ventilated also impact the flavor of the whisky.
Unheated warehouses can seldom count on experiencing more
than one maturation cycle per year. However, Early Times
is matured in brick warehouses equipped with temperature
controls by which we create our own weather. This allows
Early Times to experience as many cycles per year as is
necessary. This could mean as many as 4-5 cycles per year
as compared to only one for most whiskies. The final product's
taste ultimately depends on the maturation period. "Age"
is no criterion for quality or taste. In Early Times you
will find a more fully matured whisky - richer and smoother
Stop 11: The Peak of Perfection
At Early Times we constantly work toward this goal
- "the peak of perfection" - in every step as
we craft our whisky. Our unique grain recipe with its greater-than-average
rye content, use of pure water to cook our grains, proprietary
yeast fermentation, batch distillation and consistently
controlled maturation in company-crafted barrels all contribute
their part. These assure you that Early Times will always
have that same smooth flavor that has made it a favorite
of whisky drinkers over the years.
Courtesy of Early Times Kentucky