PARIS, Ky. (LEX 18) — All this week, we are spotlighting Paris, Kentucky: the quintessential small town and the county seat in Bourbon County.
You've likely heard the saying, "what's in a name?" Ironically, "Bourbon County" had not produced any bourbon since prohibition until 2014 when two brothers came along and decided to revive history.
"My brother and I grew up here in Bourbon County. Just a, you know, a great place to grow up... and a great place to come back to," said Jeremy Buchanan, Director of Sales at Hartfield & Co. Distillery. "My brother and I were having a chat one night, and talking about how crazy it is that there are no bourbon distilleries in Bourbon County proper anymore."
It was an opportunity to bring back a long-lost craft in the heart of Bourbon County, where the name once spoke for itself.
"The bourbon industry was huge for small towns all across Kentucky before prohibition," said Buchanan. "There were 26 distilleries in Bourbon County that closed their doors and none of them have come back."
It was a long dry spell, nearly a century, until Jeremy Buchanan and his brother, Andrew, started up Hartfield and Co. in 2014.
"My brother's the kind of guy, that, if you put an idea in his head, he'll go and start a business around it," said Buchanan. "He's very entrepreneurial."
They went all in, deciding to build a brand and product with a respect to the very history that inspired them.
"He really wanted to shape the company around the idea of returning to a pre-prohibition style production method and a pre-prohibition style spirit, which is really different than sort of the modern bourbon we have today," said Buchanan. "And so that's kind of the heart of the company is sort of returning bourbon to Bourbon County.
So now, in this old warehouse building in downtown Paris, the two are operating a family-run business and distillery. They mastered their recipe for the perfect bottle of bourbon. And Buchanan says they age the bourbon differently than a lot of the big distilleries; a quicker process in a smaller barrel.
"It's really smoky. a lot of people compare it to a scotch-type flavor," he says. "It just has a big, robust, sweet flavor and kind of ends with smoke and tobacco. It's awesome. I really love our product."
And so do other bourbon drinkers. Five years since their first bottles hit the shelves, Hartfield & Co. will be increasing their production capacity this year. A true testament to revival.
"I'm a believer in small-town America and leaving things better than you found it."
Hartfield & Co. shut down tours of the facility in 2020. They plan to start them up again soon. For more information on the distillery, click here.