Jeptha Creed Distillery is located in Shelby County, Kentucky within sight of the I-64 expressway. It was created on the 64 acre family farm where they grow their own corn for their whiskeys. It is the brainchild of Joyce and Autumn Nethery, a mother and daughter team who are creating some very innovative products while aging their Bourbon. To start with they are growing Bloody Butcher corn, an heirloom variety of red corn with tons of flavor. It takes a bit more effort to raise this corn and Joyce has told me that the deer seem to prefer the corn over other varieties being raised on the farm making the yields a bit lower than hoped for, but maybe the deer are on to something with this corn.
The distillery itself is a very attractive building with a great event space just outside the distillery, where they have held a number of events. There is a small hybrid pot still for whiskey, another small hybrid pot still for vodka and a separate column still. They make 3-5 barrels of whiskey a day when distilling whiskey. The limitation is not distilling capacity, but fermentation. They have recently added an additional two fermenters and may do so again as they grow. They use their own corn but do source their rye, wheat and malted barley. They age their whiskey at warehouses located on the farm using barrel ricks. They have used both small barrels and traditional 53 gallon barrels but are concentrating on the traditional sized barrels for future production.
Joyce Nethery is the distiller and Autumn Nethery is the marketing person, but also works in the distillery. Joyce is a talented distiller. I have tasted many of their whiskeys from un-aged spirit to whiskey that has been in the barrel for six months or more and it is good whiskey. She is also not afraid to show some imagination and innovation. Their latest product for the market, Bloody Butcher Creed, is the result of this innovation. It is a whiskey and not a Bourbon because it is aged in used cooperage. What they did was make 15 barrels of whiskey using 75% Bloody Butcher corn, 20% rye and 5% malt and another 15 barrels substituting wheat for rye. They placed the spirit into used barrels from Four Roses that had some additional toasted oak staves added to them. Then the fun part was they took about half the barrels and placed them in a freezer truck and brought the temperature down to recreate temperature cycles. They have released the whiskey at 6 months of age.
The Bloody Butcher Creed is 92 proof and has a heavy vanilla and corn nose. The taste was also corn and vanilla with just a hint of citrus, oak and spice. The finish was medium long and oaky. It is young but flavorful. It is this type of innovation that makes me look forward to some of their other products when they come of age.
When visiting Kentucky it is well worth the time to stop and tour the distillery. When walking in the door the first thing you will see is a fully stocked gift shop where you can purchase many of their products. The tour of the distillery itself is short being that most everything is located in the same area beside the gift shop. The stills are attractive and the fermenters put out a wonderful aroma of sour mash whiskey competing with the aromas of new make spirit. The visit to the warehouses is a short van ride where you also get to see the fields of corn and fruits that are grown for the distillery. The fruits are used to flavor many of their moonshine products. The tour ends at their tasting bar where they employ a top notch bartender that makes an excellent Manhattan should you want a cocktail. (Editor’s Note: You can also stop in during operating hours and enjoy a cocktail at the bar without taking a tour!)
Jeptha Creed Distillery is a distillery with a future. Their scenic location, their innovative minds and quality distillation and maturation gives them an edge over many other distilleries of their size. Joyce is a fine distiller who will only get better as the years pass and she builds on her knowledge of the craft. The Bloody Butcher corn makes an excellent Bourbon. I look forward to visiting this distillery on a regular basis.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl