Owensboro has a rich bourbon history dating back to the late 1800s with Green River Distillery and Glenmore Distillery being two of the oldest in the state of Kentucky.  A few months ago, I learned from the folks at Green River that there are multiple reasons for this and also why Kentucky bourbon is regarded as some of the best.

Why Kentucky Bourbon is the Best

First, being our water source. Owensboro Municipal Utilities' water supply comes from a large aquifer deep in the ground. The earth below naturally filters the water through layers of rock and limestone.  This limestone helps with bourbon-making in ways experts understand more than I do! You can book a tour at Green River to find out more. Second, Owensboro is settled along the Ohio River and has access to the railway system.  This combination has been ideal for distribution. Third, our amazing agriculture industry.  Local grain farmers work hard to grow quality corn and wheat which are two of the most important ingredients when it comes to the perfect whiskey recipe.

Antiques Roadshow PBS Youtube
Antiques Roadshow PBS Youtube

What Did Historical Owensboro Distilleries Do During the Prohibition Era?

They got creative! From 1920 to 1933 the 18th Amendment to the Constitution banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol in the United States.  According to the whiskey history buffs at Bourbonveach.com, at the time, Glenmore Distillery had passed into the hands of Col. Frank B. and James P. Thompson, chairman, and president respectively. They acquired the necessary licensing to continue business with the understanding that all bottles were for medicinal use only.

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How Did People Get Medicinal Use Whiskey?

Doctors prescription! All bottles had to be 100 proof and government stamped with "Bottled-in-bond.  This whiskey was supposedly good for all sorts of ailments. According to this bottle, it can help with colds, bronchitis, influenza as well as being an "easily combustible energy providing nutrient." I've always heard it called "Grandma's Cough Syrup" so I guess that makes sense! It sure has provided me with "energy" a time or two as well.

Antiques Roadshow PBS Youtube
Antiques Roadshow PBS Youtube

Owensboro Bottle on Antiques Roadshow

When this woman brought a selection of her stash of medicinal whiskey bottles to Omaha, Nebraska for Antiques Roadshow, she was pleasantly surprised to find that they were very valuable and I was pleasantly surprised to see one was from right here in good ole OBKY.  Timothy Gordon is the appraiser for this segment and shares more information about the history of whiskey as medicine.

This woman found these and 12 more at an estate sale. You best believe I will be keeping my eyes peeled the next one I go to and yall should too! Here is the label for the bottle we're looking out for, folks. You never know what you can find at those things! Cheers!

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