Owensboro is a Kentucky city that is steeped in Bourbon Heritage. It is still the home of Glenmore Distillery which does not distill but employs many people in the aging warehouses and bottling facility owned by Sazerac. On the other side of town the O. Z. Tyler Distillery is making whiskey and experimenting with fast aging of the whiskey. Before prohibition the town was home of the Monarch distilleries and the Green River distillery that later became the Medley distillery after prohibition and is now the O Z Tyler distillery. It is only fitting that Owensboro would be the location to one of Kentucky’s best Bourbon Bars at the Miller House.
The Miller House is a historic old home in downtown Owensboro. It was built in 1905 by Elmer and Lizzy Miller. Elmer ordered a mold from Sears and Roebuck to make the artificial stone used to construct the house. He made his fortune in coal and was very active in the social and political life of Owensboro. After the Millers passed, the building became an apartment building, but in 2006 the present owners purchased the building and returned it to its former glory, despite the 2007 tornado that caused extensive damage to the building. It is now a restaurant with an excellent Bourbon Bar in the basement area of the home.
When you enter the bar, either from the stairs from the restaurant above or the separate stairs to the outside, you notice a wall of whiskey with over 300 bottles on the shelves behind sliding glass doors. The menu lists all of these whiskeys by price and the prices are very reasonable ranging from $3.00 to over $20.00. The pours are generous and when ordered neat they come in Miller House branded Glencairn glasses. They offer flights but do not list them on the menu. They do not separate the Bourbons from the Ryes or even the kiddie menu flavored whiskeys, but they are in alphabetical order in each price range. It takes a while to find some products as you may have to look in several price range lists to find the brand you are looking for. My experience is to look at the price range below what you would expect it to be in first and there is a good chance that is where you will find it.
Being in the basement as it is the walls are brick and when it gets crowded, it also gets very noisy. Don’t expect intimate conversation when the place is busy. They have a very knowledgeable staff who also make decent cocktails. Rosemary had her favorite, a Manhattan, and thought it was very good. You can order food from the restaurant and if the upstairs is busy expect to find diners eating at tables in the bar area.
I would give them 2 points for the huge selection but I would like to see the menu with separate categories for the different whiskeys and flights listed on the menu. I would give them 1 point for using Glencairn glasses for neat pours and 1 point for the cocktails. The staff deserve 2 points for knowledge and customer service and 2 more points for atmosphere. This gives them a total of 8 points from me. Well worth visiting for a drink if you ever find yourself in Owensboro.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach