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    Wheatley Answers The Tough Questions At The Legends Series
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    Last night there was another great installment in the Kentucky Derby Museum’s Legends Series.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this series, Fred Minnick hosts different legends in the bourbon and whiskey industry for a  question and answer session that is accompanied by a bourbon tasting.

    I never cease to learn new things when I attend these events.  Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned is why Harlen Wheatley, a bourbon distiller, has his name on a vodka.  As it turns out there was an old still at the distillery that had never been used.  It was designed to make light whiskey that came off the still at a very high proof.  This still sat for decades until a brand manager was walking through with Wheatley one day and asked him if he could get it up and running.  Wheatley agreed and began using it to make a vodka, which was named after him.  Shortly after he got the “brand new vintage still” running, there was an explosion that sent scalding hot spirits shooting through a window where Wheatley was nearby welding.  After that, they retrofitted the still with some gauges to prevent that from happening again.

    Buffalo Trace offers a lot of different bourbons, though it’s worth noting that they do not disclose their mash bills.  They also have a sister distillery in Bardstown that makes a completely different and unique set of products with their own unique yeast strain- The Barton Distillery, acquired in 2009.  An interesting side note is that the distillery was put on city water decades ago, abandoning the natural spring water that had been used in the past.  Wheatley says he would love to test the spring water to see whether it could eventually make a comeback.

    One of the many interesting topics of the evening was how social media and blogging has affected the rumor mill surrounding the bourbon industry.  There are often reports that one product or another has been discontinued.  Wheatley says that sometimes the rumors you hear are true and sometimes they aren’t, but as far as most products are concerned they just have to be pulled temporarily until supply catches up.

    There’s never an end to bourbon education, and school can be a lot of fun.  The next two guests will be Bill Samuels and Michael Veach, and tickets for both events are available by clicking here.  Hope to see you there!

    Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl

    Maggie Kimberl's picture

    About Maggie Kimberl

    I'm a Louisville native with a passion for traveling and homegrown tomatoes. I write the bourbon news, which keeps me plenty busy since Louisville is the center of the bourbon universe. See bourbon news happening? Contact me on Twitter @LouGirl502!

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