For Kentuckians, bourbon isn’t simply a beverage, it’s a way of life. With 95 percent of the world’s bourbon made in the Bluegrass, the bourbon industry is deeply ingrained in Kentucky’s economy and culture.
But why not capitalize on enhancing a great product?
That idea occurred to Doug Keeney, the founder of Old Limestone mixing water. After discovering the undesirable taste of bourbon with a splash of tap water, Keeney set out to find an alternative, and the idea of Old Limestone mixing water was born.
Keeney partnered with Highbridge Springs’ Linda Slagel to create the mixing water — limestone-filtered spring water with hints of calcium and magnesium, but no iron — for bourbon lovers who enjoy the sweet, velvety flavor not found in tap water.
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As of January, Keeney and later-added co-managing partner Barry Gluck have shipped more than 10,000 bottles of Old Limestone, with sales in every state.
So what’s the key to Keeney and Old Limestone’s success?
“The key to it all is our water,” he said. “It’s our aquifer.”
Justin Thompson, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bourbon Review Magazine, credits Kentucky’s unique spring water as being a defining factor of good bourbon.
“A lot of older bourbon distilleries used to all rely on spring water,” Thompson said. “Sometimes when you discover some of those old bottles, there’s something different about them, which I think is a positive thing.”
Michael Harper, manager of the Lexington restaurant OBC Kitchen, thinks the quality of water added to bourbon really matters. “The water itself opens up the flavors in the bourbon,” he said.
Old Limestone went on the market in October, and already Keeney is noticing a “high repeat purchase pattern.”
“I think we’re going to be the next Kentucky export,” he said. “Wherever you have bourbon lovers, you have a need for it, and we’re seeing that from everywhere, Alaska to Los Angeles.”
Old Limestone mixing water is available at Liquor Barn and other Lexington liquoir stores and bourbon bars.