Made in Kentuckiana: Ale-8-One, a Kentucky original


by Kelsey Starks

Posted on September 14, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 14 at 7:01 PM

(WHAS11) -- It got its name from a contest in 1926 after a teenage girl wanted to call a new soft drink on the market, "a late one," as in the latest, newest thing. The name stuck, but was paired down to "ale" with the numbers eight and one.

It's no longer the newest thing and Ale-8-one has a loyal fan base that just keeps growing. And, it’s Made in Kentuckiana.

Born and bred at a small manufacturing facility just off the interstate in Winchester, Ky., it’s been called "ginger ale with a kick.” It's a taste you can't quite put your finger on and that's because it's a big secret.

"This is the secret formula. Flavoring. It’s the kick that makes it taste different than anything else," Fielding Rogers Ale-8-one president said.

What is in this real-life secret formula is only known by two living people – Rogers and his father, the man who taught him how to do the top secret "mixing" process and only two other men in the past four generations.

"I’ll go into a room, lock the door, mix it up and that's what's used to make every single bottle, every single can that comes out," Rogers said.

Nine thousand cases of the trademark green bottles come out of the facility every day - an average of 600 every minute. The company's quality control staff pulls two bottles from the line every 30 minutes to be tested for acidity, carbonation and sugar content, making sure every bottle is perfect.

It’s that perfection in every bottle that has kept the company small. They are expanding, but want to keep control of quality so their expansion is slow.

You won't find it in vending machines or stores in many places outside Central Kentucky, but it can be ordered and shipped to nearly anywhere in the world.

And just like home, there's nothing quite like it. While other soft drinks switched from real sugar to the less-expensive high fructose corn syrup, Ale-8-one is still made with the real stuff. But as for what else is in it, we didn't get very far.

WHAS11 asked: “Can you tell us any of the ingredients?”

“Ginger. There's pure, natural ginger extract, but other than that, they are all secrets,” Rogers said.

Call it a Kentucky secret recipe - a big dose of family, a sprinkle of secrets with a twist of followers.

"It’s a small company with a niche following of very loyal customers. God bless them," Rogers said.