Unique soft drink celebrates 95 years of Kentucky flavor

Published 6:01 am Saturday, July 17, 2021

Kentucky’s own signature soda brand is celebrating its 95th anniversary.

July 13 marked the birthday of Ale-8-One, which calls Winchester home and is colloquially known as “Ale-8.” The ginger and citrus-based soft drink was concocted by George Lee Wainscott, who previously introduced Roxa-Cola in 1906. Roxa-Cola was named after Wainscott’s wife, Roxanne, and ended up the subject of a lawsuit battle with Coca-Cola, who alleged the soda was an infringement of trademark. This suit was won by Wainscott, who would continue in the independent soda business.

Wainscott discovered ginger beer during a trip to Europe, inspiring him to work on the recipe that would become Ale-8. This recipe was introduced at the 1926 Clark County Fair, drawing attention with a concurrent contest to name the new soft drink. Based on 1920s slang for “the latest thing,” the name “A Late One” won, with the phrase still engraved on Ale-8 bottles to this very day.

In celebration of the anniversary, staff at the Ale-8 bottling company enjoyed a barbecue and axe-throwing. What the company truly wants to recognize, according to Ale-8’s marketing director Chris Doyle, is the brand’s heritage and the community that has supported it for nearly a century.

“There aren’t many independent soft drink brands that still exist because the market is dominated by two global giants,” he said, “It’s our communities where we have been able to grow such a successful brand over 95 years. We listen to our consumers, whether it’s our guys out delivering product, or on social media where we have a tremendous following.”

It was on social media that the brand learned of people mixing cherries with Ale-8, leading to the launch of the cherry Ale-8 flavor in 2018.

It was also through social media requests, Doyle adds, that Ale-8 Zero Sugar and the seasonal orange cream Ale-8 came to be.