In the not so long ago past, a visit to a Kentucky distillery meant you could see how bourbon whiskey was produced and get a small sample of the product. In most cases you could also pick up a bottle of said spirit. Once you left, you could pretty much check it off your bucket list as been there done that.
Starting about five years ago the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and its many members worked with state legislatures to change many of the archaic laws that really restricted what a distillery could offer its visitors.
Distilleries Shift from Production Facilities to Destinations
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.
Over the last few years Kentucky distilleries went from a visit to a whiskey factory to a visitor experience and destination. New laws allow for larger sample sizes up from 1 to 1.75 ounces, bottle sales increased by 50% from 3 to 4.5 liters, and perhaps the biggest change was the ability for the first time to sell mixed drinks. Granted many bourbon fans prefer their spirits neat but often times others in their party prefer a cocktail. Suddenly, there was a reason to go to a distillery again and again not just for tourists but for local spirits fans to pick up a bottle or to simply enjoy a cocktail with that sweet smell of fresh made bourbon wafting through the air.
Now that it’s been a few years we are starting to see more and more distilleries expand their customer experience with multiple tour offerings, cocktails served at the bar by a mixologist, and small to full-service restaurants. After a distillery tour today, when a guests asks what to do nearby after a tour the answer is, “You can sit a spell at our bar and enjoy a cocktail while we prepare your dinner!” Distillers are no longer just whiskey factories they are now becoming full fledged entertainment venues.
Startup Log Still Distillery is One of Those Destinations
Log Still Distillery in Gethsemane, Nelson County, Kentucky was announced on National Bourbon Day in 2019. Founder J.W. ‘Wally’ Dant, the great-great-great Grandson of Joseph Washington ‘J.W.’ Dant announced he would build a distillery that would also include many amenities to attract not just bourbon lovers but entire families to this more than 300-acre picturesque site. The site now includes a visitor center with a functioning 50 gallon pot still, a full-service cocktail bar, a 2,000 person amphitheater, a 12 acre lake and multiple overnight options including the Homestead Bed & Breakfast.
Log Still Distillery Hires Executive Chef David Danielson
The next project to be completed at Log Still Distillery is their full-service restaurant. The restaurant will be named ’47 & Poplar’ a farm-to-table restaurant and bar that seats 200. The number 47 pays homage to their distilled spirits plant plant number DSP-KY-47. It’s the same DSP number used by the Dant family in the past. And the Poplar reference also pay homage to the past as it’s a reference to a poplar log still that was used by J.W. Dant when he first started his distilling business in the early 1800s.
Leading the foodie side of the business is the newly announced David Danielson as the brands’ executive chef and food and beverage director.
Chef Danielson brings more than 30 years of experience in the culinary and hospitality industries, most recently serving as the executive chef for Churchill Downs Racetrack and home to the world famous Kentucky Derby.
In his role as executive chef and food and beverage director, Danielson will be responsible for curating unique beverage and dining experiences at Dant Crossing’s amenities. This includes The Amp outdoor performance venue, the soon to be completed Legacy wedding and events venue, the upcoming farm-to-table restaurant 47 & Poplar, and the campus lodging options, including The Homestead Bed & Breakfast, The Poplar Cottages, and The Mansion.
“At Log Still Distillery and Dant Crossing, we’re all about good drinks, good food, and good company. Chef Danielson will play a crucial role in crafting one-of-a-kind culinary experiences at each of our amenities opening this year,” said President and Distiller J.W. ‘Wally’ Dant III.
“He’s the best of the best, and his addition to the team is just one more big reason you’ll want to add us to your list of premier Kentucky destinations to visit.”
In addition to his recent role with Churchill Downs and Levy Restaurants, Danielson was the owner and chef at Louisville’s Old Stone Inn & Tavern. Prior to this, he served as personal chef to the British consul general and executive chef for high-profile establishments throughout the U.S. and Caribbean. He has also consulted on several large-scale special events, including the PGA Championship, U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, GRAMMY Awards, and the Olympics. He is a classically trained chef who studied at the Dumas Pere school of French cooking and the Ecole Hôtelier Tain-l’Hermitage in France.
Danielson co-wrote the Southern recipe and hospitality guide “The Bourbon Country Cookbook.” He has appeared on outlets such as “Top Chef” Season 16 as celebrity chef judge, “ABC World News,” “Fox & Friends,” Travel Channel, WGN, and “Secrets of Bluegrass Chefs.”
“While we often talk about bourbon as America’s native spirit, one of the things that drew me to Dant Crossing was also looking at the heritage of the cuisine of the region and how the two really go together, telling the history of bourbon country and our commitment to creating one-of-a-kind experiences for our guests,” Danielson said.
Danielson’s hiring comes amid significant growth for Dant Crossing, which will open ‘The Legacy’ wedding and events venue and ‘47 & Poplar’ restaurant in 2022, as well as other amenities including new lodging options and a train depot.