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A brief history of Ruth Hunt’s bourbon balls

a photo of the outside of Ruth Hunt Candy

The outside of Ruth Hunt Candy in Mt. Sterling, KY | Photo by The LEXtoday

Bourbon balls — out-of-towners go crazy for them + locals don’t like to admit how much they love them.

Today, we’re distilling down the details of Kentucky’s darling candy. We traveled to Ruth Hunt Candy in Mt. Sterling to speak with the experts — Tobby Moore + Larry Kezele, owners of the 101-year-old candy store.

Has Ruth Hunt Candy been making bourbon balls for 101 years?

No. When Ruth Hunt started the company in 1921, she was not a drinker. But her daughter — Emily Peck — loved to party. She took over the company in the 1960s + decided that if you’re going to make candy in Kentucky, you should do it with bourbon.

The cook during that time was a preacher, and also didn’t believe in bourbon. He made Emily pour the bourbon in herself to make the candy.

bourbon balls

Bourbon balls | Photo by The LEXtoday team

Are bourbon balls your most popular candy?

Originally, “Blue Mondays” were our most popular candy item. They were so popular, in fact, that a man from Louisville placed a few in his grandmother’s coffin when she was buried. When she started getting sick, she couldn’t remember much — but her eyes lit up when he would bring her “Blue Mondays.”

But now, bourbon balls have surpassed “Blue Mondays” mostly because of the wholesale Woodford Reserve bourbon balls that we sell.

Tell us about the partnership with Woodford Reserve.

We began partnering with Woodford Reserve in the early 90’s + now we only use Woodford Reserve in our bourbon balls. The Bourbon Trail wasn’t even established when we started that partnership. And now, there’s a bourbon craze across the world.

Ruth Hunt Candy has two locations — Mt. Sterling + Lexington. The Lexington location isn’t a factory, but they offer the same delicious treats as the Mt. Sterling location.

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