A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Season for spirits: Made-by-ghosts white whiskey, Tanner’s Curse, from Boone County Distilling Co.


The Boone County Distilling Company, one of Kentucky’s most exciting new small batch craft distillers, continues to break new ground in its goal to return Northern Kentucky to its once-held prominence among American whiskey producers.

Their new white whiskey distilled from bourbon mash, marked Tanner’s Curse, is crafted in “The Bear,” a 500 gallon Vendome copper pot still named after legendary Petersburg distiller William Snyder’s pet bear. (Yes, he had a pet bear.)

Tanner’s Curse celebrates the tragic legend of the Baptist Minister John Tanner and his family.

Tanner settled Tanner’s Station, which later became Petersburg, Kentucky, the home of the original Petersburg Distillery. His story illustrates the everyday dangers of life in this region in the late 1700s.

Click to go to website

Click to go to website

Unfortunately, this tragedy begins with a simple error in judgment.

Unknowingly, Tanner founded Petersburg smack atop a prehistoric Native American graveyard of the Fort Ancient people. He made a major mistake. A mistake he paid for with lives.

On a chilly October dawn, the white moon hanging in the sky like coyote eyes,legend goes,Tanner’s two eldest sons embarked in canoes on a hunting trip down the Ohio River. They were ambushed by natives at a point in the river called Split Rock and held captive. Knowing his disadvantage, Ezra Tanner made a deal with the Chief to meet him in a tomahawk fight to the death, with the winner to be spared. After an hour, the young Tanner split the Indian’s skull wide open. Contest over. But the Indians reneged on the deal, and immediately attacked Tanner and his companions, killing the boys deader than stones.

These early Americans fought for their place in history, and their influence runs as clear as the whiskey in this newest vessel, Tanner’s Curse. Like the alabaster moon, the embers of their souls live on, well beyond the battle.

In 1785, the Bluegrass could be a wild and bloody place, says the folks at Boone County Distilling Company. The landscape was raw, the living thin, and conflict was inevitable.

These early Americans fought for their place in history, and their influence runs as clear as the whiskey in this vessel. Like the alabaster moon the embers of their souls live on, well beyond the battle. 

Back in the late 1800s, when Boone County was booming with distillers, blacksmiths, lumbermen and farmers, it took teamwork to meet the needs of the growing community.

Men, women and children worked together to accomplish a long day’s work, with immense satisfaction found in the accomplishments. That’s how communities are built.

Lewis Loder’s tavern was such a place. Loder, a bookkeeper, ran the White Hall Tavern at Tanner and Front Streets in Petersburg. He proudly built his community one glass at a time. One of his favorite treats was serving shots of bourbon over rich ice cream, and as the sun set on the Ohio River his hard-working patrons enjoyed a sweet reward for their honest day’s work.

The Distillery recaptures that history with its Bourbon Cream blended with signature Boone County’s Eighteen 33 and rich, alabaster cream. Pour it over ice, ice cream, or in your coffee. Pour it and remember.

Reminiscent of the days when bourbon was celebrated as the life-blood of the region, the Boone County Distillery is 5,000 square feet set on 2.5 acres. It includes a 500-gallon pot still, four fermenters and a small bottling line with a capacity of hundreds of barrels of small batch bourbon a year


Co-owner Jack Wells began developing the distillery four years ago and production started in October 2015, marking the first legal distillation in Boone County in more than a century.

The distillery joined the Kentucky Distillers’ Assocation in December 2015.

Barrels are stored on site, in a 3,000-square-foot warehouse behind the distillery.

In every detail of the operation, the distillery “respects our history while investing in our future. Our tag line, “Made by Ghosts,” harkens to the early pioneers who crafted spirits in Boone County more than 100 years ago.”

The facility is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday with tours offered daily.

Purchase these historically-relevant “Made by Ghosts” spirits at the distillery and tasting room/gift shop at 10601 Toebben Drive in Boone County, about a mile off I-75.

Visit website for hours of operation and tour times.

The ghosts await.

Staff report

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