Question: Did you know that Basil Hayden, namesake of a famous Kentucky bourbon, actually started his distillery in St. Mary’s County?
It’s true! Basil Hayden, Sr. was a Maryland Catholic who led a group of twenty-five Catholic families from Maryland into what is now Nelson County, Kentucky (near Bardstown) in 1785. Years ago, immigrants from Scotland and Ireland made their way to St. Mary’s and Charles counties, he said, but were lured to the Kentucky territory by “corn grants.” The grants, dispensed by the governor of Virginia, who then presided over the Kentucky territory, gave land to settlers who promised to grow corn.
The Kentucky settlers ended up growing much more corn than ” they needed. And so, these Scotch-Irish folks “did what they knew how to do,” O’Daniel said. “They made whiskey.”