Sally Van Winkle Campbell writes, “Kentucky has a handful of industries that, in history, have been important-have let her stand up and be proud.” One of those, of course, is the bourbon industry.
“But Always Fine Bourbon” is the story of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which, for a large part of the 20th Century, was known for making the finest bourbon in the world. But it’s a bigger story than that: It’s the tale of the Van Winkle family, of the legendary “Pappy” Van Winkle himself, of an era when businesses were still run by larger-than-life men who had other priorities than maximizing the bottom line. It’s also a story of the American Dream: the creation of a family company, so common a part of this country’s history, but now disappearing in our age of mergers and acquisitions.
Turn the corner into Limestone Lane. Smell the pungent odor of whiskey being made. Drive past the guardhouse and the sign saying “We make fine bourbon, at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon.”
It’s a trip anyone with interest in bourbon, or Kentucky, or the history of this country will relish.