Whenever I say I'm from Kentucky, I get mixed reactions – so many misconceptions about our Commonwealth! Even though I've lived here since I was 12, there is still much to explore – especially after my move from Lexington to Louisville. This brings me to Kentucky Life – a new series of posts highlighting some of the best the state has to offer.
There are certain pairings that just go with states. Georgia + peaches. Vermont + maple syrup. Alaska + salmon. Kentucky + bourbon.
I love bourbon and touring distilleries. The bourbon love has been strong for a while, but learning more about the spirits and distilleries is a more recent hobby. The first distillery I ever visited was for my second date with Steve at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort.
A couple of weeks ago, Steve and I attended an event at Jeptha Creed Distillery in Shelbyville. Seeing as we lived in Shelbyville for a hot second (him for much longer), we kept saying we were going to check it out, and never did. It was time to remedy that. The distillery is conveniently located right off of I-64 between Frankfort and Shelbyville – just a few miles east of the the Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Simpsonville. (Must. Resist. Gucci. Outlet.)
The wonderful team at Jeptha Creed hosted a group for cocktails, booze-infused food, and a tour of the facilities to celebrate that they're the Official Vodka of the Kentucky Derby Festival.
You thought this was about bourbon, didn't you?!
Well, bourbon takes a long time to age – this is so much of the magic! So while Jeptha Creed bourbon is having a nice, long nap in the rickhouse, this female led, family owned craft distillery is creating a bevy of other spirits that are equally as enticing: vodka and moonshine.
They have a Cocktail Passport you can take to different area establishments for unique cocktails made from Jeptha Creed spirits. Collect at least 6 different stamps from the 17 participating bars, and then take it to be redeemed for a free Jeptha Creed Distillery tour and special commemorative glass.
Left, Bluegrass Belle: Jeptha Creed Blueberry Vodka, mint simple syrup, lime juice, Sprite
Right, New Fashioned: Jeptha Creed Original Moonshine, blood orange syrup, Ne Oublie bitters, orange, and cherry
Something Joyce Nethery, Master Distiller and co-owner, shared how everything is locally sourced, and even grown on the land when possible. Their heirloom “bloody butcher” corn that makes up their mash, for example, is grown right on the property. This means they control the process from ground-to-glass. The blueberry vodka shown here is infused and macerated with real, locally sourced blueberries. Even the countertops of the bathrooms, bars, and tables were made of wood reclaimed from the property.
I didn't realize that in addition to their tours, they also have a phenomenal space for indoor and outdoor events. They regularly have live music and trivia. They also mentioned hosting a Highland Games event in the summer, which I think would be fun to see.
The tour was really informative, and I liked hearing about how, with being a small craft distillery, they can experiment with different things. Steve was particularly interested in the mention of a paw paw spirit. (He previously gave me the history of the paw paw, how it's from this area but so infrequently used because, like an avocado, it goes from perfect to mush in a very short span. The man knows a lot about so many things, and I'm the unsuspecting recipient of his random knowledge bombs.)
This is not the best photo, but I had to share because I was in love with their copper barware. Gave me all kinds of ideas of things I want to get for our bar at home.
I must say that these drinks were incredibly tasty and very well crafted. After the tour, we were also able to sample some of the spirits on their own. Steve loved the coffee vodka, and I found their original vodka to be very palatable and smooth.
This was a wonderful event, and we really had a great time. I can't wait to taste the bourbon when it's ready. The bloody butcher corn and a high percentage of corn in the mash bill means it should have a natural sweetness to it.
To learn more about the distillery, get a boatload of recipes, and see events coming up, visit their website here. While you're there, check out the Cocktail Passport. You can view it as a PDF to see the participating restaurants and all the recipes.