Our History

Bourbon was born right here in the heart of Kentucky. Steeped in charred oak barrels in the ideal climate of Kentucky’s hot summers and snowy winters; the tradition carries on today, almost entirely unchanged.

In 2012, Steve Thompson, Chris Miller and Mike Loring came together with an idea to create a place for people to come and ‘bottle their dreams’ in the old Crestwood, Kentucky Ice Cream Distributors, Inc. building. Steve’s many years of experience in the spirits industry played a big role in the inspiration and power behind the Kentucky Artisan Distillery concept. It would be the first contract distillery in Kentucky, and the only production sized farm-to-bottle distillery capable of distilling as little as one barrel for a special occasion on up to over 1,800 barrels a year for partners like Jefferson’s Reserve. They would do this using only pot stills, and running the distillery by hand.

As bourbon has gained popularity in recent years, things have changed a little bit. The Jefferson’s brand has grown, and has adopted Kentucky Artisan Distillery as its official home. We take great pride in being the home to this innovative brand, which still stays true to the rich heritage and tradition of bourbon. This is why KAD is the perfect home for Jefferson’s. We still produce every drop of bourbon completely by-hand.

Our Story

Kentucky Artisan Distillery: Where distilling is still an art.

Kentucky Artisan Distillery is a unique place in the craft distillery world. A visit to KAD shows the real side of Kentucky craft distilling. Led by our Head Distiller, Jade Peterson, our team of distillers run a distillery that is devoid of iPads, rather using their senses to know when a batch is finished. Our distillery is truly as close as a production facility in the 21stcentury can get to how bourbon was made 200 years ago.

Kentucky’s finest Farm-to-Bottle operation

On any warm day all through the growing season, on your drive up to the distillery, you may see our tractors hauling corn or rye, harvested from a field just a mile away. They are coming from the 700 acres at Waldeck Farm, where we contract grow our grains. All under our careful and time-tested process, these grains will undergo the process of malting, milling, mashing, distilling, aging and bottling under the names of some of our favorite small batch brands, right here at Kentucky Artisan Distillery. We even up-cycle our spent grain locally to Oldham and Henry County farms to feed their cattle.

Historic Distillery Equipment Collection

Muse your way through over 200+ years of historic distillery equipment and bottles in our ever-growing onsite display, entirely collected by our own Steve Thompson. Displays are always changing as Steve’s collection grows, and as we cycle a variety of items to loan to Kentucky museums.

Our extensive collection of historic spirits items range from a turn-of-the-century travelling still (that still works!) to old cooperage tools to pre-Prohibition bottles and moonshining stills. The pieces come from Kentucky and all over the world, and span from modern production to the early 18th Some of our historic pieces are actually in production in our distillery!

Get a behind the scenes tour of a real working distillery

Every tour of KAD is a behind the scenes tour. Built first as a distillery, and then having tours added later, allows visitors to immerse themselves in a true craft distillery. Ask a distiller that question you’ve always wanted the answer to, walk into our laboratory, run your hands through the grains and sample the finished product.

Book Tour

Meet The Team

Our distillery artists and artisans

Steve Thompson

President and Majority Owner

Bourbon enthusiast who has spent his entire career in the spirits industry. Steve has helped launch distilleries all over the country, and we are lucky to call him ‘boss’.

Chris Miller

Distillery Director

One of the three original men to start KAD, Chris now oversees all operations at the distillery.

Jade Peterson

Master Distiller

Respecting the art of distilling by honoring tradition; Jade runs our distillery and leads our distilling team to create the best products possible.

Liz Ratliff

Visitor Center Manager

Liz is a Kentucky native who loves educating our guests on everything the Bluegrass State has to offer: best of all, Bourbon!

Our Tour Guides

Our tour guides are bourbon experts who can guide you through our distillery and answer any questions you have about our distillery, our brands or bourbon in general.

Our Distilling Team

Our distillery team is filled with true artisans. They work hard to create beautiful bourbon and other fine spirits for you to enjoy. Stop by and say hello during one of our tours.

Meet The Distillery

We at KAD operate a completely non-automated and non-computerized distillery. We run a combination of five pot stills that range in size, from 125 gallon to 2000 gallon, and in age, from Prohibition-era to modern construction. We pride ourselves in only doing batch distillation, focusing on one batch through all steps of the process.

Our first still is a 2,000 gallon pot still made at Vendome Copper. ‘Jeffrey’ is capable of stripping all 2,000 gallons within a single shift. He was added to the KAD family in 2017.

The second still is a 600 gallon pot still also made at Vendome. Lovingly referred to as ‘Ginger’, as she is the Swiss army knife of our stills, with the capability to be used for stripping or finishing and has the capability to run gin (thus, her name). She was installed in 2015.

Our third still is an 1,125 gallon hand-hammered copper pot still. “The 11” has been producing spirits in Kentucky since the post-prohibition era. It is used mainly for our second distillation, or finishing runs. Despite its age, “The 11” is our most reliable piece of equipment.

The 4th still is a 125 gallon pot still. This still has a copper onion and stainless column designed by Vendome. Our “test still” is used for scaling up experimental and test projects.

The last still is a 365 gallon hand-hammered copper pot still. “The Bean” also dates to the post-Prohibition era, and can be used for producing small batches in historic fashion.

Our distillery has expanded capabilities from 300 barrels in 2014 to our current capacity of 3,000 barrels per year.