By Gary West
“It’s all about our water,” master distiller Brent Goodin said as he nodded in the direction of an old oak tree while standing in his still house on a cold November morning. “It comes from an underground limestone shelf aquifer and flows out near the base of the tree.”
The oak tree that Goodin says is 100 years old was once used to mark the property’s boundary in the 1800s.
With all of the family history on the land, it was easy for Goodin and his wife, Melody, to decide on Boundary Oak Distillery as the name of Hardin County’s first bourbon moonshine operation since the 1890s.
But it’s the bourbon Goodin is making that has created quite a stir, even though it won’t be available for another two years.
An online auction for the first bottle generated a winning bid of $28,050.
“It was unbelievable,” Goodin said. “From everything we’ve found out, this will be the most valuable first bottle of bourbon in history.”
The money will go to charity, and the top bidder wants to remain anonymous. Goodin did say the person is from Hardin County.
The red block building that once was used for industrial manufacturing now houses a 125-gallon still imported from Germany and two specially crafted concrete fermentation tanks.
“The concrete tanks are used a lot in wine production,” Goodin said. “It gives off a more organic taste.”
Although the first actual moonshine production flowed into the clear Mason jars in late 2013, the official launch of the bourbon took place in mid-November in a gala-like atmosphere at Stone Hearth Restaurant in Elizabethtown.
More than 200 guests enjoyed not only the pumpkin-, apple- and cinnamon-infused moonshine, but beef tenderloin, shrimp, oysters on the half shell, escargot and assorted desserts.
“Our restaurant has been an integral part of the county for about 38 years,” said Judy Logsdon, the restaurant’s owner. “And we wanted to be a part of something as historic as this.”
Guests had the opportunity to jointly sponsor the original bourbon barrel that will allow them to purchase one of the first limited edition signed and numbered bottles.
Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association that also coordinates the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, had high praise for Boundary Oak and the evening’s festivities.
“I’ve been to several of these craft bourbon kickoffs, and this is the best,” he said. “These are exciting times in the bourbon industry, and it looks like Elizabethtown and Hardin County are right in the middle of it.”
Bourbon production has increased more than 150 percent in the past 15 years, and Gregory said the state is sitting on the largest bourbon inventory since 1977.
“Part of this growth is due to our thriving craft distillery industry of which Boundary Oak is a part of,” Gregory said. “These artisan distillers are building the next generation of our legendary craft.”
While the Bourbon Trail attracted more than 630,000 visitors last year, 60,000 of those were to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour in its inaugural year.
There are several craft distilleries in Louisville and Lexington, but smaller Kentucky towns are now getting in on the action.
They include Corsair Artisan (Bowling Green), Casey Jones (Hopkinsville), Dueling Grounds Distillery (Franklin), M B Roland Distillery (Pembroke), Old Pogue (Maysville), Gentlemen Distillery (Paris), Wilderness Trail Distillery (Danville), Limestone Branch (Lebanon), Silver Trail Distillery (Hardin) and Three Boys Farm Distillery (Frankfort).
“This is a segment of the bourbon industry that is getting ready to explode,” Gregory said.
Boundary Oak Distillery Kentucky Moonshine is being sold in package stores across Kentucky.
“In the near future we’ll be giving tours and tastings here,” Goodin said.
They are at 5796 Battle Training Road, Elizabethtown. The phone number is 270-765-9488.
There’s no excuse. So get up, get out and get going.