Official Ale-8-One Logo
|Manufacturer||Ale-8-One Bottling Company, Inc.|
|Country of origin||United States|
Ale-8-One, known colloquially as Ale-8, is a regional ginger and citrus flavored soft drink, distributed primarily to brick and mortar retailers in Kentucky. It is bottled by the Ale-8-One Bottling Company, a family-owned enterprise in the small town of Winchester, Kentucky, near Lexington, where the beverage is especially popular.
The formula for Ale-8-One was developed by soda bottler G. L. Wainscott in the 1920s. According to text on the back of some Ale-8 bottles, "Wainscott was an eccentric old man; however, there was nothing odd about his creation." Wainscott, who had been in the soda business in Winchester, Kentucky since 1902, had developed Roxa-Kola, his previous flagship product, in 1906. In creating the formula for Ale-8-One, Wainscott drew upon his knowledge of ginger-based recipes acquired during extensive travels in northern Europe.
Wainscott began bottling his new creation in 1926. To choose a name for the drink, he sponsored one of the first name-the-product contests in the United States; "A Late One" was chosen as the winning entry. The "Ale-8-One" logo is a pun of the phrase suggesting that his product was "the latest thing" in soft drinks.
In 1935, Wainscott purchased a livery stable in Winchester and converted it to a bottling factory to expand his operation. Upon Wainscott's death in 1944, half of his company stock went to his wife; the other half was divided among his employees. When his wife died in 1954, her stock was left to her brother, Frank A. Rogers, Sr. Rogers bought the remaining company stock in 1962 and incorporated the Ale-8-One Bottling Company. He named his son, Frank Rogers, Jr. manager of the new company. The company grew rapidly, and the younger Rogers was elevated to president.
The Ale-8-One Bottling Company constructed a new plant in Winchester in 1965. It ceased production of Roxa-Kola in 1968, and by 1974, had halted production of all its other drinks to focus on Ale-8-One when Frank A. Rogers III joined the management team. The facility has been expanded several times, including the addition of a warehouse in 1976, a syrup room in 1981, and a two-story office complex in 1989. The company remains under the control of the Rogers family. The current president is Wainscott's great, great-nephew, Fielding A. Rogers.
The recipe for Ale-8 is a closely guarded family secret. Reportedly, only two executives—former company president Frank A. Rogers, III and his oldest son, Fielding Rogers, the current president—know the exact composition. According to the product label, Ale-8's ingredients include "carbonated water, sugar and/or corn sweetener, glycerine, natural and artificial flavorings, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), caramel coloring, phosphoric acid, [and] caffeine." Each 12-fluid ounce (355-ml) serving contains 37 mg of caffeine and 30 g of sugars. (For comparison, the same serving of Coca Cola Classic in the U.S. has 34 mg of caffeine and 39 g of sugars.) The company readily admits that natural ginger is included among Ale-8's flavorings. A trace of citrus can also be discerned.
In 2003, the company announced limited distribution of Diet Ale-8, its first new product since the introduction of the original Ale-8 in 1926. Diet Ale 8 contains 44 mg of caffeine (compared to 45 mg for Diet Coke) and no sugars. The diet variety is sweetened with a mixture of acesulfame potassium and sucralose, the latter being more commonly known under the brand name Splenda.
Caffeine Free Diet Ale 8 followed in March 2011, when requests from caffeine restricted customers reported not being able to drink Ale-8 at all or later in the day. In addition to not having any caffeine, it is also sweetened with Splenda and has been formulated with this population in mind.
Availability and distribution
For much of its history, Ale-8 was only available in Kentucky, though it was briefly available in parts of the Southeast in the early 1980s. In April 2001, however, the Ale-8-One Bottling Company expanded its distribution to areas of southern Ohio, and southern Indiana, through an agreement with Coca-Cola Enterprises. Later, distribution to eastern Tennessee was added. In addition, there is limited distribution to Florida. The company also ships cases of its product directly to consumers in the contiguous United States through its website as well as military personnel serving overseas with a US postal address. Ale-8 is also available at Rural King stores in southern Illinois.
Ale-8 (As of July 2015) recently announced plans to expand production into Indianapolis.
Ale-8 is available in glass bottles, aluminum cans and plastic bottles. It is widely preferred that the beverage be drunk from a glass bottle, rather than cans or plastic bottles[by whom?]. Ale-8 traditionalists are even known to refuse to drink Ale-8 from the newer glass bottles. Instead, they prefer the older "returnable" glass bottles. The "returnable" bottles are often referred to as long-necks or green dragons.
Some Kentuckians are fond of mixing Ale-8-One with one of the commonwealth's many bourbons, such as Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey, or Buffalo Trace. This has been named the "Kentucky Cocktail", and it is a signature drink at some Kentucky establishments such as the Marriott Griffin Gate resort in Lexington and The Brown Hotel in Louisville.
- Walton, p. 11
- Walton, Riley Rogers (1992). "Ale-8-One". In John E. Kleber. The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Associate editors: Thomas D. Clark, Lowell H. Harrison, and James C. Klotter. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
- Official site
- Review on BevNET.com
- Official Distributor in Georgia
- Sauceman, Fred (September 30, 2005). "Kentucky's Ale-8-One Soon to Turn 80" WETS-fm Public Radio site.
- "Environmental Quality Commission Honors ALE-8-ONE" (2003). Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission site.
- Lomax, Rebecca (July 18–Jul 24, 2002). "The Latest Thing." (Cincinnati) CityBeat.