While Kentucky is known for its long history of producing bourbon, that tradition continues to grow with new or planned distilleries cropping up in several areas of the state.
Historic Star Terrace, which sat directly above the original Old Pogue Distillery, has been fully renovated and is the base of operations for H.E. Pogue Distillery today. (Photo from Old Pogue)
Among these are the Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville, Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company, Michter’s Distillery in Louisville and The Nth Degree Distilling in Newport. All plan to offer tours for visitors who want to learn more about Kentucky’s most famous consumer product and the country’s only native spirit.
The Old Pogue Distillery, which began operation in April, borrows from a lengthy distilling tradition by the Pogue family in this northern Kentucky town on the Ohio River. Several generations of Pogues were involved in distilling from 1876 until Prohibition in the 1920s. Now the Pogues have opened a small-batch distillery producing bourbon and rye whiskeys in the family’s historic home on West Second Street.
Local historians proudly note that bourbon distilling in Kentucky began in 1790 in Mason County near where the H.E. Pogue Distillery operated later for more than 50 years. The Pogues are offering tours of their new facility by appointment through their website. Twice-daily scheduled tours will begin in the near future.
Meanwhile, it’s been nearly 200 years since there was an operating distillery on Louisville’s “Whiskey Row,” a stretch of downtown’s Main Street that’s been associated with bourbon for more than two centuries. Now Michter’s Distillery plans to open a small production facility in the historic and architecturally significant Fort Nelson Building at 801 W. Main St. The new distillery, directly across the street from the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, will offer tours when it’s scheduled to open sometime next year.
Louisville Distilling Company, which is producing a new small-batch bourbon called Angel’s Envy in Bardstown, also hopes to move to a facility on Main Street next year. The company is a family venture involving Lincoln Henderson, retired master distiller at spirits giant Brown-Forman.
The Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company is building a 20,000 square foot plant west of the city’s downtown that will produce a new whiskey named Town Branch Bourbon. Owned by Alltech, the global animal nutrition company based in Nicholasville, the distillery will also produce Pearse Lyons Reserve whiskey and Bluegrass Sundown, an after-dinner bourbon-and-coffee beverage. The new $6 million distillery plans to join the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour experience this fall. The new building at 401 Cross St. will have glass walls on three sides so the copper stills and fermentation tanks can be seen from outside. The owners hope it will become a prominent tourist attraction near Lexington’s proposed Arena, Arts and Entertainment District. Visit the company’s website.
Plans are also in the works for a new micro-distillery in Newport to be called The Nth Degree. The developers, who broke ground in July, are hoping to become part of the Bourbon Trail when the facility opens next year and are aiming to attract 700 visitors a week for tours.
Other small-batch bourbon producers have been operating for several years in areas away from the well-known bourbon country of Central Kentucky. For example, Corsair Artisan Distillery in Bowling Green and here.
From the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism