The Jeptha Creed Distillery can be seen off I-64. | Courtesy of Jeptha Creed
The Jeptha Creed Distillery can be seen off I-64. | Courtesy of Jeptha Creed

The Nethery family’s motto is Ne oublie, which translates to Don’t forget where you come from. And it is with that in mind they opened the doors of Jeptha Creed Distillery in Shelbyville Friday, making it the first locally owned distillery to operate in Shelby County since Prohibition.

At an official opening celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony held Friday morning, the Netherys — husband and wife, Bruce and Joyce, daughter, Autumn, and son, Hunter — welcomed city, county and state officials, media and bourbon industry folks into their stunning 15,000-square-foot distillery that sits on 64 acres of farmland.

The Nethery family: Joyce, Autumn, Bruce and Hunter | Courtesy of Jeptha Creed
The Nethery family: Joyce, Autumn, Bruce and Hunter | Courtesy of Jeptha Creed

“We we love our family history and heritage and wanted to build a legacy for our children,” Joyce Nethery said. “We also wanted to build something that would attract people to Shelby County.”

Insider first shared the story of the family who planned to build a distillery from ground to glass in April, and at that time, this had been a nearly four-year passion project.

Their plan was to make old-fashioned new again, much like their family’s motto, and one of the unconventional ways they were going to achieve this was by using bloody butcher corn in their products. The heirloom crop they grow and harvest themselves dates back to 1845.

Joyce Nethery, a former chemical engineer, will take on the role as master distiller, making her one of three female master distillers now in Kentucky. (The other two include Castle & Key‘s Marianne Barnes and Michter’s Pam Heilmann.) Autumn will help her mom run the distillery as marketing manager; Bruce will tend to the farm; and Hunter, a senior at Trinity High School, will most likely pursue a career in engineering.

The $3 million distillery is just off Interstate 64 at exit 32, making it easily accessible for tourists and residents embarking on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Tours, which started Friday, include a look at the full operating distillery as well as tastings from the company’s four current products: vodka, honey vodka, moonshine and lemon moonshine.

Jeptha Creed's two vodka products | Photo by Sara Havens
Jeptha Creed’s two vodka products | Photo by Sara Havens

They plan to add more vodka and moonshine flavors in the spring, and in December, they’re releasing more than 600 bottles of their first bourbon, an experimental batch with the bloody butcher corn they put into barrels in 2014.

There also are plans for several types of bourbons (high wheat, high rye and four grain), and, if you recall, Insider was there on Aug. 18 when they put their first bourbon produced at the distillery into the barrel.

After this winter, tours also will include a trolley ride around the farm, where many of the ingredients for the vodkas, moonshines and bourbons will be grown. (The Netherys have, in fact, already purchased a trolley from Louisville, and Bruce tells us it was once the official “Derby Trolley.”)

The mood was festive at the opening, as Joyce and Autumn shook hands with and welcomed everyone at the small gathering. Several speakers — including Kevin Hall from the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, Colleen Thomas from the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Shelby County judge executive Rob Rothenburger and Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty — talked about the Netherys’ commitment to making fine bourbon and bringing both business and tourism to Shelby County.

Bar manager T.J. Gordon | Photo by Sara Havens
Bar manager T.J. Gordon | Photo by Sara Havens

With that, they cut the ribbon and invited guests into the expansive visitor’s center, where there’s a full bar, full kitchen, gift shop, tasting station, club house, a large outdoor patio, distillery room and special event space.

The decor is warm and inviting like an Aspen lodge, and other than the distillery equipment, it felt as if the Netherys were welcoming guests into their own home.

Bar manager and Louisville resident T.J. Gordon made two cocktails for guests — a Bloody Mary with Jeptha Creed Vodka and a Jeptha Creed version of a Bellini — from behind the bar that was fashioned out of an old tree that was removed to build the distillery. It’s small details like this that further align the family’s mission with their passion.

Jeptha Creed will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tours will be $10 and include tastings. Follow them on Facebook to hear about future events, product releases and news.

Take a look below for more images of the distillery and the morning’s events.

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Joyce Nethery welcomes guests to Jeptha Creed Distillery. | Photo by Sara Havens

Sara Havens

Sara Havens

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."