bourbon

Regional
12:48 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

"Person of Interest" Sought in Possible Connection to Bourbon Heist

Pappy Van Winkle is one of the most sought-after bourbons in the world.

Police are searching for a man who tried to sell a large quantity of a famous bourbon to a Hardin County liquor store. The man—who was caught on surveillance tape—is wanted in questioning over a recent heist of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.

Police in Franklin County started investigating last week when 65 cases of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and nine cases of rye turned up missing at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, where the whiskey is bottled and aged. Pappy Van Winkle is routinely one of the most expensive whiskeys in the world, having gaining a cult-like status largely because there’s so little of it to go around each year.

The Courier-Journal reports that Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said the man who tried to sell the Pappy Van Winkle to the Hardin County liquor store appeared to be between the ages of 50 and 60, and was wearing what looked like a Bardstown High School pullover. Melton described the man as a “person of interest” and said authorities believe he drove a late model Ford F-150 that appeared to be green with a tan trim.

You can find a link to the surveillance video here.

Regional
2:08 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson Dies

Bourbon legend Lincoln Henderson, speaking in July
Credit Rick Howlett

A master distiller who helped create the Woodford Reserve brand for Brown-Forman and came out of retirement in 2006 to help launch Angel's Envy has died.

A statement from Angel's Envy says 75-year-old Lincoln Henderson died late Tuesday. It did not give a reason.

Henderson was well-known and respected in the industry and was named as an inaugural member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

A statement from Brown-Forman said Henderson worked for the company nearly 40 years and was a "titan of the Kentucky bourbon industry."  It said he tasted more than 430,000 barrels of bourbon to determine whether they were ready for bottling.

Kentucky Bourbon
9:15 am
Wed July 24, 2013

New Blended Bourbon Honors Longtime Master Distiller

The Heaven Hill distillery in Bardstown, Ky.

Kentucky's renowned bourbon brands are offering up a bit of their whiskeys for a special blend to benefit efforts to find a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease in honor of longtime Heaven Hill Distilleries master distiller Parker Beam.

The result of the effort is called Master Distillers' Unity. Bardstown-based Heaven Hill says a crystal two-bottle set of the one-of-its-kind blend will be offered at auction in New York City on Oct. 13. All proceeds will go to the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund, which is raising money for research and patient care by the ALS Association.

Parker Beam has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

The special blend includes bourbon from Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

Kentucky Bourbon
12:45 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Bourbon Pioneer Elmer T. Lee Passes Away at Age 93

Elmer T. Lee
Credit Buffalo Trace

The man who introduced the world's first single barrel bourbon has died at the age of 93. Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee passed away Tuesday morning following a brief illness.

Lee's connection to Kentucky's signature spirit began in 1949, when he started working in the engineering department of the George T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort. In 1966, Lee was promoted to plant superintendent, and three years after that he became plant manager.

Lee's most lasting contribution to the world of bourbon came in 1984 when he introduced the first-ever single barrel bourbon, called Blanton's. Taking a cue from the scotch industry that gained popularity in the U.S. through single-malt varieties, Lee honed the technique of identifying and cultivating the best bourbon that could be produced in his distillery's warehouses. He took into account where the barrels were located in the warehouse, how often they were rotated, and how long the whiskey aged in the barrels.

In 1986, Buffalo Trace honored Lee by naming a line of single barrel bourbons Elmer T. Lee.

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Business
2:28 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Distillery in Louisville Latest Member of Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Heaven Hill is setting up shop in downtown Louisville.
Credit bizpics.com

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is expanding to include a small distillery that's tucked in the shadows of skyscrapers in downtown Louisville.

Heaven Hill Distilleries' new distillery will become the eighth stop on the popular tourist attraction that has drawn more than 2.5 million visitors in the past five years.

Mayor Greg Fischer said Thursday that bringing the Bourbon Trail to Louisville will enhance the city's bourbon tourism efforts.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail takes visitors to several rural and rustic settings to visit the places where iconic bourbons such as Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve are crafted.

Kentucky is home to 95 percent of the world's bourbon production.

Arts & Culture
3:40 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Kentucky Derby Weekend Means It's Mint Julep Time

The apotheosis of Kentucky's bourbon culture: the mint julep

Kevin speaks with Cole Phelps about the history and proper preparation of the mint julep.

The mint julep stands proud as the beverage known as Kentucky's signature drink. Unless you're new to the area or haven't been paying attention, you know the julep is synonymous with the Kentucky Derby.

What you might not know, however, is that the mint julep's history traces back to a rose water drink in the Middle East.

WKU Public Radio's Kevin Willis in 2010 visited the famous Seelbach Hotel in Louisville to learn the history and proper preparation of the famous drink. Cole Phelps, who at the time served as the head bartender at Max's Bar on the hotel's second floor shared his favorite recipe for drink:

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Business
9:09 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Kentucky Bourbon Production Tops 1 Million in 2012

Bourbon barrels rest inside a warehouse at Woodford Reserve.
Credit Kevin Willis

The amount of bourbon produced by Kentucky distillers has topped 1 million barrels for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Officials with the Kentucky Distillers' Association said Monday that 1,007,703 barrels were filled in 2012. The last time the total went over a million was in 1973 when 1,004,877 barrels were produced.

The group's president, Eric Gregory, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Kentucky's distilleries are experiencing double-digit sales growth and seeing landmark production levels while investing in new facilities.

The group says bourbon production is up more than 120 percent since 1999.

Author Interviews
6:00 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Web Extra: Kentucky Bourbon Book Author Talks Prohibition, Maker's Mark Episode

Bourbon barrels at rest in a warehouse at the Woodford Reserve distillery
Credit Kevin Willis

Michael Veach is a man who knows his bourbon. Not just because he enjoys Kentucky's signature spirit, but because he's also one of the nation's foremost bourbon historians.

Veach is associate curator of special collections at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, and the author of the new book Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Tradition. In his recent interview with WKU Public Radio, Veach told us about the many tall tales he had to debunk surrounding the history of bourbon.

Here are a few web audio extras featuring Veach that we didn't have time to include in the interview we aired this week:

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Author Interviews
11:25 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Kentucky Author Debunks Popular Legends Surrounding Bourbon in New Book

Author Michael Veach, at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville
Credit Kevin Willis

Kevin's interview with Michael Veach, author of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage

It's a golden era for Kentucky's signature spirit. Bourbon has never been more popular in the U.S. or throughout the world. Bourbon's colorful history is shrouded in mystery, with a lot of tall tales and legends popping up throughout the years.

Michael Veach put bourbon under the microscope and put his skills as an historian to work in his new book, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage. Veach is the associate curator of special collections at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville.

He spoke to WKU Public Radio's Kevin Willis about how the term "bourbon" first became applied to Kentucky whiskey, where the idea of charring barrels came from, and who we should thank for the current popularity of bourbon:

There are a lot of legends surrounding bourbon that you have to debunk as an historian looking into the origins of Kentucky’s famous whiskey. One of those legends is that bourbon is named after Bourbon County, Kentucky. What did you find out?

“You know, I would love to have been able to prove that bourbon was named after Bourbon County, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized I just couldn’t do that.”

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Business
9:27 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Honored by National Geographic

Bourbon barrels rest in a warehouse at Woodford Reserve, one of the stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Credit Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s signature spirit is getting some love from a well-respected publication.

National Geographic has designated the Kentucky Bourbon Trail as one of its top 10 "Best Spring Trips."

The Kentucky tourism attraction is showcased along with excursions and festivals in New Zealand, India, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, South Africa and Argentina.

Only three American trips made the top 10.

The Bourbon Trail attracted more than 500,000 visitors in 2012, the first time the tour has broken the half-million mark since its creation in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

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