You can’t spell Bardstown with ‘Bard’. And the Bard family is no stranger to the town their family helped to create a three centuries ago.
Tom and Kim Bard visited Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky back in 2006 and got the distillery bug. 13 years later the dream of starting their own distillery came true when this dynamic duo opened The Bard Distillery in Graham, Kentucky.
It was Bard’s 4th great-grandfather William Bard, one of two brothers who founded Bardstown, Kentucky. Though their distilling roots can be traced to Bardstown, their distillery sits 116 miles west in Muhlenberg County’s historic Graham School. A now converted school that Tom Bard once attended, as did three generations of his family. They are now renovating the school as it transforms into a modern craft spirits distillery with a visitor center, gift shop and plans for future expansion.
Tom Bard is a mechanical engineer. He learned to distill from a decade of study and networking, including attending Distillery Camp at nearby MB Roland Distillery in Pembroke, Kentucky.
Kim Bard is a former middle school principal and NASCAR driver, and she continues to race monster trucks in Australia when time allows. Tom Bard said, “Kim is a driving force behind the growth and success of the distillery.”
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The Bard Distillery Joins the Kentucky Distillers’ Association
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has announced that The Bard Distillery is the newest and 41st member of the non-profit trade group that unites and leads Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association,” Tom Bard said. “Kim and I have dedicated years of our lives to our distillery, and to finally be open, operating, and now a recognized member of Kentucky’s growing group of distillers, it’s an honor and a dream come true.”
The Bard Distillery current products include Cinder & Smoke, a 13-year-old straight Bourbon whiskey, and Silver Muhl White Whiskey. In addition to producing bourbon and whiskey this year, the distillery halted spirits production to create much-needed hand sanitizer over the summer to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Bards into our growing family of Kentucky’s finest distillers,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “We look forward to their leadership, supporting their success and working together to responsibly grow and sustain Kentucky’s iconic Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.”
The Bard is the KDA’s 16th Craft-level member, aging less than 10,000 barrels a year, and joins an impressive list of flourishing distilleries in the Western Kentucky region, including MB Roland Distillery and Casey Jones Distillery in Christian County and Dueling Grounds Distillery in Simpson County.
The Bard also is now eligible to join the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. Attendance at the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® distilleries has skyrocketed more than 300 percent in the last 10 years. Total attendance last year was nearly 2 million, the highest number since the Trail was founded in 1999.