Bourbon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It is the remnant of what was previously a much larger Bourbon County, established as part of Virginia in 1785, and comprising what are now thirty-four modern Kentucky counties. The area later became known as Old Bourbon in reference to its historical expanse. It was originally part of the French province of Louisiana, then after 1763 became part of Virginia, but was to the newly formed Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1792.
The population of Bourbon County was recorded as 19,985 in the 2010 United States Census. Its county seat is Paris, Kentucky. It is best known for its historical association with bourbon whiskey, although no bourbon whiskey is currently made within Bourbon County.
Bourbon County was established in 1785 from land given by Fayette County, Virginia, and named after the French House of Bourbon, in gratitude for Louis XVI of France's assistance during the American Revolutionary War. Bourbon became part of the new state of Kentucky when it was created in 1792.
The courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1872 and 1901, resulting in the loss of county records.
In 1780, Kentucky County, Virginia, was divided into three counties of Virginia: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln, called the District of Kentucky. Formed in 1786 from Fayette County, Bourbon County, Virginia, originally comprised 34 northeastern counties of Kentucky's 120 current ones, including the current Bourbon County. The area later became known as Old Bourbon in reference to its historical expanse.
Birthplace of Bourbon Whiskey
Whiskey was an early product of the area, and whiskey barrels from the area were marked Old Bourbon when they were shipped downriver from the local port on the Ohio River. As it was made mostly from corn (maize), it had a distinctive flavor, and the name bourbon came to be used to distinguish it from other regional whiskey styles, such as Monongahela, a product of western Pennsylvania, which may have generally been a rye whiskey. The use of the term Old in the phrase Old Bourbon, was likely misconstrued as a reference to the aging of the whiskey rather than part of the name of the geographic area. The port, originally known as Limestone, now Maysville, was in Bourbon County until the borders were redrawn in 1789 when it became part of the Mason County of Virginia, and it is now in Mason County, Kentucky. Thirty-four modern Kentucky counties were once part of the original Bourbon County, including the current county of that name.