UK's Nunn Center To Preserve Stories Of Kentucky's Bourbon Trail

Sep 17, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky's bourbon barons are sitting down to tell the stories about themselves and their craft.

Craig and Parker Beam of Heaven Hill Distillery
Craig and Parker Beam of Heaven Hill Distillery
Credit photo provided

The collection of oral histories is a joint effort by the Kentucky Distillers' Association and the University of Kentucky's Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.

Center Director Dr. Doug Boyd says Kentucky Bourbon Tales will preserve the stories and colorful characters for future use and edification.

“The generation that really shaped the bourbon industry and where it is today is of a certain age that I think it’s really becoming urgent and important to record their stories now.”

And “NOW” is definitely the operative word since some of the industry’s giants have been silenced forever.

“We were able to interview Elmer T. Lee and get that story in the archive; he passed away a few months back.  We weren’t able to interview Lincoln Henderson unfortunately and he passed away last week.  It’s important to record these stories as comprehensively and as quickly as we possibly can and get those into the archive and make those stories part of history.”

The interviews begin with the father-and-son team of Parker and Craig Beam. They are master distillers at Heaven Hill Distilleries, the Bardstown-based maker of Evan Williams bourbon. The Beam family traces its whiskey-making roots in Kentucky to 1795, when Jacob Beam set up his first still.

Other bourbon makers include Brown-Forman, Four Roses, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and Wild Turkey, and will be featured in future episodes of WUKY’s award-winning Saving Stories series.