Bourbon from Bourbon County?

We woke up. Simple as that.

After 95 years without any legal bourbon production, we opened our doors. 95 years. At some point over the summer of 2013, we decided we needed to fix that problem. We had the will to do it, just not the knowledge. You read that right, we didn’t know what we were doing.

The story really picks up the day that our UPS driver brought a copy of The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining I had preordered from Amazon. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. Neglected all kinds of things. One point to be clear, my wife blames all of this distillery business on the guys from Kings County. If you are reading, Colin and Dave, my wife says thanks a lot.

Their book gave me courage. Courage to try this on a small scale. Courage to step out and correct the problem I saw. It also gave me a base knowledge on what the hell I was doing. It all became so clear…kind of. We could get started on a small scale with small stills from our friends down at Hillbilly Stills and change history.

Home of Hartfield & Co., formerly The Gentleman Distillery, from 2014–2016.

We found an old building that we loved. It had beautiful hardwood floors, huge windows, brick walls and most of all it was on Main Street here in Paris. We wanted to take a huge step into making Bourbon, but we also wanted to be part of the community. We wanted to feel the vibrance of the downtown activities and the liveliness that comes with a small town. This was going to be home.

Our final license was approved September 9th, 2014 at 12:32 pm. Not that we were keeping track. At that moment, we walked over and started turning things on. Rum and vodka was first, like so many craft distilleries across the country, while we figured out what we wanted to say with our Bourbon.

There’s an important idea running through our thought process. We were starting the first distillery in Bourbon County since 1919 and while that was the driving factor, we didn’t want to make liquor that tasted like everyone else. But, having no experience in the distilling world, we found the best path to understanding what direction we wanted to take with our flavor profile is what we in the industry call research.

It’s a fantastic thing when a trip to the liquor store can be counted as a business expense. That’s exactly what we did. Bought a bunch of different types of spirits and started tasting, comparing what we were tasting to the reviews online and training our palate at the same time. Through our “research”, we landed on something we felt like could be unique and stand out in an already overcrowded bourbon landscape.

Now came the hard part, trying to actually make it a reality.