Distillers throughout Kentucky are impressed with our water

Louisville Water Company kicked off its Water Grows KY campaign with a presentation at the Third Annual James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference, highlighting water’s vital and often unexpected role in Kentucky’s top industry sectors — agriculture, distilling and brewing, education, health care, and manufacturing.

In collaboration with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, the James B. Beam Institute identified key industry issues for three days of engaging topics, industry vendors and exhibits.

The conference included presentations from Heaven Hill, Vendome Copper & Brass Works, Maker’s Mark, Beam Suntory, and a welcome address from Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Governor Andy Beshear.

Louisville Water Company’s Kelley Dearing Smith informed attendees about water’s role in the bourbon industry, expanding upon the history of chief water tasters, job growth in distilling, and the state’s recent economic success due to a high quality, reliable source of water.

The presentation concluded with a water tasting comparing Louisville Pure Tap™ to bottled water. The audience was asked to look for certain tasting notes in each, without knowing the water’s source until the end.

“Earthy” and “plain” were words used to describe Pure Tap™, a perfect palette for distillers and brewers when mixing with other ingredients.

“One thing that was unique about the Louisville Water was that it was bland,” said Akinbode Adedeji, an associate professor in food engineering at the University of Kentucky. “That’s exactly the feeling you want water to have in your mouth — that bland taste, no acidic or chemical feeling. So, that kind of struck me.”

For many, Louisville Water was a name they’d heard of but never tasted before. Distillers like Kim Bard said the presentation and water tasting proved to her why so many distillers partner with Louisville Water.

The earthy flavor profile was something she wanted in her own distillery, The Bard Distillery, located in Graham, Kentucky.

“That was my ah-ha moment today, that bottled water has such a different flavor profile, but water that comes directly out of the river and then comes into Louisville Water — I want that in my county,” said Bard. “You taste our water, it is nothing like Louisville Water. So, I’m a big fan of Louisville Water.

The Bard Distillery joined KDA as the 41st member in November 2020. Inspired by a trip to Maker Mark Distillery in 2006, Bard, along with her husband Tom Bard, opened the distillery in Muhlenberg County’s historic Graham School with the goal of restoring a historical property in the community. Tom attended school there, as did three other generations of his family.

The Water Grows KY campaign will continue its tour with presentations planned to other stakeholders, partners, and businesses across the commonwealth through 2022.