Kentucky Artisan Distillery - Founder Steve Thompson Passed Away Sept 6, 2021

Kentucky Artisan Distillery located in Crestwood, Kentucky is like the Leatherman of distilleries. Kentucky Artisan Distillery operations offer a vast array of distilling needs including contract distilling, bottling and barrel storage. They have their own brands like Whiskey Row Bourbon and Billy Goat Strut Whiskey and serve as the official homeplace to Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon. They also offer bourbon fans a visitor center, retail store and tasting room. In other words, they touch all parts of the distilling business.

Steve Thompson, founder of the Kentucky Artisan Distillery passed away on September 6th, 2021 at the age of 79.

Steve was President of Brown-Forman Distilleries and led its distilling operations from 1987 to 1995. After retiring from Brown-Forman, Steve started RF Industries, a railroad and food industries company that created pumps, filters and steel fabrications. He moved to Hawaii to create Hawaii Island Spirits Inc. in 2007, founding micro distillers of rums, vodkas and Okolehao-Hawaiian whisky.  

Steve moved back to Kentucky and founded Kentucky Artisan Distillery 2012.

UPDATE: Stephen Thompson Obituary & Funeral | La Grange, KY | Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Monday, September 13, 2021 1:00 PM EDT Saint Bernadette Catholic Church 6500 Saint Bernadette Ave Prospect, KY 40059 (502) 425-2210
Learn more here.

Kentucky Artisan Distillery Released this Statement

“It is with great sadness that we pass along the news that our founder, Steve Thompson, passed away on September 6th, 2021 at the age of 79 years old. Distilling was Steve’s life and passion – he was the President of Brown-Forman Distilleries from 1987 to 1995, created Hawaii Island Spirits Inc. in 2007, and in 2012 was able to realize his dream in opening his own distillery, Kentucky Artisan Distillery, in Crestwood, Kentucky.

Steve was an incredible force of nature, breathing life into every room, never slowing down, and always speaking directly from the heart. He will be dearly missed by us all.”

Steve was definitely one-of-a-kind. A lifelong Bourbon enthusiast who spent his entire career in the spirits industry, Steve was an incredible resource for distillers young and old. He knew his craft and his trade, and he wasn’t afraid to tell you what he thought – and it always came from the heart.

Kentucky Artian Distillery Joined the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 2013

Kentucky Distillers' Association - Kentucky Artisan Distillery Joins the KDA, Rick Robinson, Steve Thompson, Eric Gregory, 2013
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Steve Thompson receives his official barrel head for joining the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 2013. Rick Robinson, Steve Thompson and Eric Gregory (L to R).

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Kentucky Artisan Distillery became the Kentucky Distillers’ Association 18th member back in 2013 just as craft spirits was taking off in the United States.

Kentucky Artisan Distillery - Founder Steve Thompson
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Kentucky Artisan Distillery Founder Steve Thompson.

At the time, Thompson said, “[Kentucky Artisan] Distillery will produce its own brands and function as a cooperative for guest distillers who need assistance with production, bottling, barrel storage and more.”

“Opening a distillery is a lengthy and expensive process. We can help prospective distillers get started and get their products on the shelves, while they’re concentrating on set-up, sales and marketing.

“Our dream is to create opportunities. We’re truly offering everything for people to distill their own unique spirit without great expense. We’re thankful to the KDA and their members for all their support and all they do for our signature industry.”

Needless to say, Thompson and the folks at Kentucky Artisan Distillery have delivered on that promise over the last decade.

We will pass along funeral arrangements when they are available.

Please join us in keeping Steve, his family and his colleagues at Kentucky Artisan in your thoughts during this difficult time.

Learn more about Kentucky Artisan Distillery.
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