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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mama on a Budget: The Old Pogue Distillery

The Old Pogue Distillery
Guest Post by: MOABs Husband Kevin Duke
My wife has been writing the Mama on a Budget column for a few years and I’ve gotten to sit by and read her pot shots about me over and over all the while she goes to one “Mom’s Night Out” followed by another, “claiming” that she has to go to write her next column.  Well, it took me two years but I finally caught on to her angle; by choosing to write stories about fun activities, she got (much needed) time to herself to do said activities.  I can understand her reasoning; I imagine it is hard to live with me, basking in my radiance all the time.  Nonetheless, I recently flipped the script and convinced her I needed to get in on the “time-alone” action.

John Pogue and Kevin Duke
And what better way to start than with some bourbon!  The Old Pogue Distillery is located in Maysville and has been (but for a few post-Prohibition era decades_ since 1876.  It has always been family owned and still is with the master distiller being John Pogue, Fort Thomas native, Highlands graduate, and (full disclosure) friend of mine since preschool.  After years of dormancy, the Pogue family began distilling whiskey again in 2004; John made a career change 3 years ago (geologist by training) to run the family business full time.  Although the original distillery facility burnt down in a fire, the Pogue’s purchased the property across the street, fully renovated it, and set up shop to produce a barrel per week (one barrel nets approximately 200-240 “fifths” of bourbon).  Compared to their apex in the early 1900’s when Old Pogue distilled 50 barrels per day, one can see this is truly “small batch”.

Small or large, I only know taste and the taste is exquisite.  Unfortunately, since John distills only about a barrel per week AND the taste is exquisite, it means there is often a shortage.  Pogue distributes to 18 states currently and Kentucky has been completely out of the Old Pogue Bourbon for months.  Even at the distillery he is out, selling only the Five Father’s Whiskey (which you can also get in stores such as DEPs) which is quite good, higher proof (110), but does not have as smooth a finish as the bourbon. 

The tour consists of seeing his still, hearing John’s explanation of the history of the distillery, the process through which corn (whiskey is required to be a minimum 50% corn) turns to whiskey, the history of the cooper’s union requiring brand new barrel be used for every batch of whiskey (used barrels are sold to barrel ale companies or to Scotland for scotch which has no such requirement), and also one gets to see the historic house on the property which was renovated by the Pogue family.  Oh, and you get to taste the product (including the bourbon despite the shortage).  Honestly, it is worth the 50-mile drive or so simply to taste the bourbon!

So, gather your Dad friends and hop in a car for the drive to Maysville to visit John Pogue, try his craft distilled bourbon and rye whiskeys, and support a local family as they recreate history in every bottle.  Free tours run only on Tuesdays and Saturdays and you must have an appointment to attend.  Visit their website here for more information or to schedule a tour.  And hey, if you only have three in your sedan, give me a call.  I could always drink more bourbon with a future friend!

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