There are six artisan distilleries outside of Louisville that everyone should be watching. They are making very good whiskeys that will only get better as each distillery matures and they increase the number of barrels in their warehouses, leading to more mature whiskey in the bottle. I thought I would discuss six of them here. They will be listed in alphabetical order – not by preference of their product or tour. They all make good whiskey and unfortunately, there are a couple of distilleries on this list I have not visited but, I hope to remedy that fact in 2021.

  1. Dueling Grounds Distillery: This distillery is in Simpson County, Kentucky, near the Tennessee border. I have not visited there yet but it is high on my list for 2021. It is not far off I-65 as you are heading to Nashville from Louisville. I really like the 4 year old, cask strength, single barrel Linkumpinch Bourbon. It has a rich vanilla and corn nose with vanilla, corn, white pepper and oak in the taste. It is well balanced and will only get better with age.
  2. Jeptha Creed Distillery: This distillery is about 30 miles from Louisville off I-64 as you head toward Lexington. They have a wonderful distillery tour and a tasting experience in their warehouse that is worth the trip. The distiller, Joyce Nethery, is a very talented woman, and uses Bloody Butcher corn raised upon the family farm. It is a true farmer/distillery experience. They have released a four grain Bourbon at 2 years old, but should soon be releasing a traditional Bourbon made with rye and a wheated Bourbon at 4 years old. The Four Grain Bourbon has vanilla and corn with a hint of cherries and berries on the nose. The taste is corn, caramel, raspberries and cherries with some allspice and cardamom spice notes. The finish is long with sweet oak and spice.
  3. Kentucky Artisan Distillery: This distillery is also about 30 minutes outside of Louisville just off I-71 in Crestwood, Kentucky. The distillery has partnered with Jefferson’s Reserve to make their whiskey, but also produces the Whiskey Row label. The tour there is short but very good with a variety of stills on display as the founder, Stephen Thompson, shows off his collection of vintage stills. Many of them have been used at the distillery. The distillery has just released a Bottled-in-Bond expression of the Whiskey Row label that is a four grain Bourbon. The nose is almost brandy-like with caramel and lots of raisin, berries and date aromas with a hint of baking spices and oak. The taste is caramel and berries with cinnamon, nutmeg and oak leading into a long finish of sweet oak wood and spice.
  4. Limestone Branch Distillery: This distillery is a partnership with Luxco and Stephen Beam. Beam was able to acquire the Yellowstone label from Luxco and Luxco was able to acquire interest in this fine distillery and their Beam and Dant Family heritage. It is a win/win situation for both sides. The distillery is small and only makes about a barrel a day. The recipes being used there are from papers Steve Beam owns from both the Beam and Dant sides of his family. The distillery is near Lebanon, Kentucky but worth the drive from Louisville. The Minor Case Rye is a product of their own distillation and shows the talent Beam has as a distiller and blender. It is finished in sherry casks but the rye dominates the flavor. The nose is rye grass and fruit – raisins and blackberries and dates. The taste is rye grass, citrus fruit with a bit of berries and dates. The finish is long with some cinnamon spice and oak.
  5. MB Roland Distillery: This distillery is in Christian County, Kentucky – several hours drive from Louisville. I admit that this is another distillery I have not visited but hope to do so in 2021. I have always liked the whiskeys I have tasted from this distillery. I have a bottle of their rye whiskey which is made with 68% rye, 27% white corn and 5% barley malt. It states the mash bill right on the label and you have to like a distillery who takes pride enough in what they make to give such information freely. The nose is vanilla and rye grass with a bit of ripe peach or apricot. The taste is rye grass, caramel, peaches and baking spices with a hint of oak. The finish is long and spicy with some sweet oak and cinnamon.
  6. Old Pogue Distillery: This distillery is along the Ohio River in Maysville, Kentucky. It has been a few years since I have visited and they have expanded since I was last there. They are still a very small distillery only making about a barrel a day. The distiller, John Pogue, is one of the most talented distillers I have met. The distillery is located in the garage of the old Pogue Family home, overlooking the river. My favorite product from them is the Old Maysville Club Rye. It is made from 100% malted rye and based upon an old family recipe. The nose is malted milk balls with rye grass and chocolate. The taste is rye grass with a bit of licorice and caramel leading into ripe peach fruit and allspice. The finish is long and spicy with just a hint of sweet oak and fruit balancing the spice.

I am hoping to visit all six of these distilleries in 2021. Some for the first time, some because it has been a while since I was there and others because I like visiting them and tasting their whiskeys.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller