The Boone County Distilling Company, a small batch craft distillery continues to break new ground in its goal to return Northern Kentucky to its once-held prominence among American whiskey producers. To help put this statement in perspective the roots of distilling in this county can be traced back to 1833 when the Petersburg Distillery was in business. In its day, the Petersburg Distillery was one of the largest distilleries in the U.S. In 1860, they were producing 1,000,000 gallons of whiskey. 47 years later at the height of production in 1897 they were putting out a massive 4 million gallons of whiskey per year. But by 1,900 boats quit stopping at this once bustling river town of Petersburg and 10 short years later their fortunes changed and the distillery was shuttered.
Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.
Boone County Distilling has just released a new white whiskey distilled from bourbon mash, marked Tanner’s Curse, crafted in the still they affectionately call “The Bear,” a 500 gallon copper pot manufactured by Vendome Copper and Brass. The still is named after legendary Petersburg distiller William Snyder’s pet bear. (Yes, he had a pet bear.)
According to the distillery, Tanner’s Curse celebrates the tragic legend of the Baptist Minister John Tanner and his family. Tanner settled Tanner’s Station, which later became Petersburg, Kentucky, the home of the original Petersburg Distillery. His story illustrates the everyday dangers of life in this region in the late 1700s.
Unfortunately, this tragedy begins with a simple error in judgment. Unknowingly, Tanner founded Petersburg smack atop a prehistoric Native American graveyard of the Fort Ancient people, he had made a major mistake. A mistake he paid for with lives.
On a chilly October dawn, the white moon hanging in the sky like coyote eyes, Tanner’s two eldest sons embarked in canoes on a hunting trip down the Ohio River. They were ambushed by natives at a point in the river called Split Rock, and held captive. Knowing his disadvantage, Ezra Tanner made a deal with the Chief to meet him in a tomahawk fight to the death, with the winner to be spared. After an hour, the young Tanner split the Indian’s skull wide open. Contest over. But the Indians reneged on the deal, and immediately attacked Tanner and his companions, killing the boys deader than stones.
These early Americans fought for their place in history and their influence runs as clear as the whiskey in this vessel. Like the alabaster moon, the embers of their souls live on, well beyond the battle.
Tanner’s Curse Whiskey is a 120 proof unaged white whiskey. The whiskey can be purchased at the Boone County Distillery and tasting room at 10,601 Toebben Drive in Boone County, Kentucky.