Bourbon Industry

Kentucky distillers, Louisville's Frazier Museum plan permanent bourbon history exhibit

The Frazier History Museum in Louisville and the Kentucky Distillers' Association on Thursday announced that they are partnering on a permanent exhibit on the history of the state's most famous beverage, bourbon.

"The industry needs a place to tell the unabashed story of bourbon, that doesn't go into brands but tells the story of how it ties into the culture and history of the commonwealth," said J. McCauley "Mac" Brown, treasurer of the Frazier and vice president of Brown-Forman, one of the state's largest bourbon producers.

The exhibit will become part of a bigger Frazier, which will be expanding into two buildings next door to its location on Main Street in Louisville. The buildings were donated by Laura Frazier and Catherine Frazier Joy, when their father, Frazier Museum founder Owsley Frazier, passed away 21/2 years ago. The museum attracts 80,000 to 100,000 visitors annually, officials say.

No dollar figure was set for the bourbon project, which will be a multiyear endeavour.

The museum hired BRC Imagination Arts, which has worked with Guinness, Bacardi, Disney, Coca-Cola, NASA and many more, to design and integrate a permanent bourbon exhibit.

Based on what Imagination develops, a capital campaign will kick off to fund the bourbon experience at the Frazier, officials say.

The museum hopes the new bourbon-oriented experience will serve as an official starting point to the KDA's Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.

"This will be tremendous for the community and commonwealth because of the kind of tourism we can help drive and support the Bourbon Trail," Brown said.

All distilleries will be included in the exhibit, Brown said, even those that are not part of the Kentucky Distillers' Association. "We definitely will be talking to distilleries, but there are artifacts all over the place," Brown said. "I've got a lot at home."

Eric Gregory, president of the KDA, said that with the announcement the fund raising effort can begin. It's long been a dream of the distillers' group to establish something to tell their story.