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Issue 127 - Old School Kentucky

Whisky Magazine Issue 127
April 2015


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Old School Kentucky

They make craft whiskey don't they?

Have you ever wondered what a Kentucky distillery looked like when they were farm-distilleries? They operated smallish stills, farmed soya beans and corn, slopped hogs with distiller's mash and butchered their own chickens. Welcome to the MB Roland distillery in Pembroke, Kentucky.

Minus the hogs and decapitated chickens, MB Roland looks, feels and even smells like an old school farmer-distillery. Cut into the picturesque green landscape of Western Kentucky and a few miles from the 101st Airborne Division's home, Fort Campbell, the MB Roland Distillery acquired a former Amish farm to build a dream.

“The Amish are supposed to be known for their incredible craftsmanship, but that wasn't my experience. I don't think we found a single straight board in any of the buildings,” says Paul Tomaszewski, co-owner with his wife Merry Beth Roland, whom the distillery is named after.

Tomaszewski and crew installed electricity, replaced the dirt floors with concrete, stabilised old buildings and opened in 2009, becoming Christian County's first distillery since Prohibition. The area was never a powerhouse distillery county, but it enjoyed a few decent-sized distilleries in the late 1800s and early 1900s. According to tax records, Lanier & Haskins distillery near Crofton, Kentucky, produced 200 barrels in 1910, making it the county's largest distillery on record. (Who knows what the non-taxpaying distilleries were producing!)

MB Roland currently has the capacity to produce one...

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