I would like to start of by saying thank you to Boone County for taking the time to show us around. You were definitely great hosts. Boone County distilling is located in Independence, Kentucky a short drive from either Cincinnati or Lexington. The first thing you will notice when pulling up is that Boone County is not sitting on a picturesque piece of farmland like you experience at many of the larger distilleries. The distillery is located near the back of a industrial park. So know when you see this you are in fact not lost. They are currently in the process of expanding their tasting room so there is some construction going on. In the gift shop they have all of the offerings your would expect plus some exclusives such as 5 year barrel strength rye, 7 year barrel strength wheated bourbon, and a barrel proof version of their small batch bourbon finished in Oloroso sherry casks.
After doing a quick tasting we headed to the back where Ed showed us around and we got the chance to see the distillery in operation. Boone county has a combination style manufactured by Vendome. This still allows them to get all of the flavors that are created by the tradition pot style stills while also achieving the higher production rate of a column style still. If you look at the photo to the right of the column you will notice a gin basket that is used for adding botanicals to their Ruckers & Gaines gin. They produce their gin twice a year in the spring and winter never using the same batch of botanicals so they always have a new take on their gin available.
As you go through the distillery and the gift shop you will notice the tagline “Made by Ghosts” everywhere and this line pays homage to the history of the “Boone County” name. There are a ton of distilleries that have been started up in the last 15 years resurrecting the name of a bygone historical distillery and claim to have found the original mashbill buried in a family basement etc… and use that as their brand and marketing story. That is not what Boone County is about. They are very up front and honest about the fact that this is not the same distillery that once stood in Petersburg and they are not claiming some historical recipe rescued from the ashes. Instead they are paying tribute to a distillery in their area that was once one of the largest producers in the nation before being shuttered in 1910. If you are interested in that history they do a much better job of telling it on their site than I could here.
As we made our way out the rickhouse it became even more apparent that Boone County is a distillery that is more concerned about the quality of their product than rushing it out the door for profit’s sake. The company started by bottling sourced bourbon from MGP under their now discontinued 1833 label. This was never a long term plan for them and was only meant to generate income while their own whiskey aged. Those MGP barrels sold through much faster than they anticipated. The only barrels left now are being used to mix in with their own whiskey that is being sold under their current small batch label. Their whiskey is currently up to five years and the quality is where it needs to be. They just don’t have enough supply to start releasing it yet. From what Ed told us sometime next year when the whiskey has hit 6 years they should have enough supply to keep up with demand and will be releasing their own bourbon to the public.
As we made our way back into the distillery we got the chance to see something else that you don’t see at a large operation. They were in the process of bottling their bourbon cream and everyone at the distillery, owner included, was working the bottling line. Every bottle at Boone County is hand labeled and sealed as well. Overall it was a great experience and I am always happy to visit a distillery that is focused on putting out a quality product and not cutting corners to get whiskey on the shelves before it is ready. If you are in the Lexington or Cincinnati area stop by and give them a visit. You will be glad you did.