They’re making whiskey in Muhlenberg County again.
And this time, it’s legal.
Last December, Tom and Kim Bard opened The Bard Distillery in the historic Graham High School, which opened in 1933 and closed in 1990.
It continued as an elementary school until 2004.
Bard and three generations of his family attended school there.
“I know we’re the first legal distillery in Muhlenberg County since Prohibition,” he said. “And I haven’t found a record of any before then.”
Like much of rural Kentucky, Muhlenberg had its share of moonshiners in years past.
On Monday, the new distillery became the 41st member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
Bard said he can make one to three barrels of whiskey a week and has 20 barrels in storage.
“It’ll be ready in a few years,” he said.
Bard said when a new barrel is ready, he sells 500 bottles in a matter of hours.
Current products include Cinder & Smoke, a 13-year-old straight Bourbon whiskey, that was produced at another distillery, but is aging at The Bard, and Silver Muhl White Whiskey.
White whiskey is essentially moonshine — 124 proof whiskey that hasn’t been aged.
“You can drink it,” Bard said. “But we suggest that you use it as a mixer.”
In December, the Bards will add an apple pie whiskey, a blackberry whiskey and a salted caramel cream liqueur to its list of products.
The company also made hand sanitizer during the summer.
Bard said their whiskey has won several major awards this year, including a double gold award at the John Barleycorn Awards earlier this year.
So far, the distillery has a visitors’ center and a gift shop.
There are free tours and free tastings, Bard said.
Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
In five years, Bard said he hopes the distillery is too big to be in the small craft distillery category.
The Bards first announced plans for the distillery in 2015.
One of Bard’s ancestors, William Bard, was one of the founders of Bardstown.
A mechanical engineer by trade, Tom Bard learned distilling after a decade of study and networking, including attending Distillery Camp.
Kim Bard is a former middle school principal and NASCAR driver.
She continues to race monster trucks in Australia when she has time.
KDA President Eric Gregory said in a news release that the Bards “demonstrate a true commitment to the heritage of Kentucky’s signature distilling industry and to the preservation of a local landmark.”
The Bard is the KDA’s 16th craft-level member — aging fewer than 10,000 barrels a year.
It is now eligible to join the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.
The KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour drew nearly 2 million visitors last year.
“Having another family-owned distillery anchoring the western corridor of Kentucky’s flourishing Bourbon industry is a real success story for small business and our industry,” Gregory said. “We thank the Bards for their dedication and hard work to strengthen Kentucky’s place as the one true home for bourbon.”
Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301 firstname.lastname@example.org