A bottle of Early Times
|Type||American whiskey (labelled as Bourbon in export markets, and as Kentucky Whisky within the U.S.)|
|Country of origin||Kentucky, United States|
|Alcohol by volume||40.00%|
|Related products||Woodford Reserve|
Early Times is a brand of Kentucky whiskey distilled in Shively, Kentucky by the Brown-Forman Corporation, one of the largest North American-owned companies in the spirits and wine business. The company also markets Jack Daniel's, Finlandia Vodka, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Canadian Mist, Old Forester, Korbel champagne, and Chambord.
While Early Times is marketed outside the U.S. as bourbon, the whiskey does not meet all the U.S. regulated criteria for bourbon – and hence, is marketed within the U.S. as whiskey (rather than as bourbon whiskey). In 2010, Brown-Forman introduced Early Times 354 in the US, which meets the regulated criteria for straight whiskey.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (April 2012)
The Early Times Whisky brand production started at Early Times Station, Kentucky. The Kentucky water surrounding the "Station" was used for making the whiskey. The water naturally filtered through limestone springs. Early Times was not popular until 1920 when Congress passed the Volstead Act and Prohibition began. The brand prospered due to its maker having a license to continue production.
The Brown-Forman Company acquired the Early Times brand in 1923, and over the next 30 years made Early Times the best-selling whisky in the country. Today the brand is sold in over 40 countries. It ranks as one of the top four selling bourbons in the world, and in 2005 it became the top selling Kentucky whisky in Japan.
Production and products
The brand is currently owned by Brown-Forman and is produced at the Brown-Forman Distillery in Shively, Kentucky. Most of the Early Times which is now sold in the U.S. cannot legally be labeled as a bourbon whiskey within the U.S., so it is labeled as "Kentucky Whisky". Some of the spirits in Early Times are aged in used barrels, while bourbon must be aged in new barrels according to the legal requirements for bourbon sold within the U.S. It is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume.
In 1987, Brown-Forman contracted with Churchill Downs to market Early Times mint juleps as the "official drink" of the Kentucky Derby. Over 100,000 Early Times Mint Juleps are sold during Derby Week each year. The highest-priced mint juleps at the event use bourbon from the Brown-Forman sister brand, Woodford Reserve, which is marketed as the "official bourbon" of the Kentucky Derby.
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