Jeptha Creed Distillery
“Do you want to go for a ride in Scarlett, Truly Scrumptious?” With her tail wagging and that adorable Truly dance that she does, she gives us a deep beagle bark to let us know she’s ready to ride. With the top down, we drive through the rolling green pastures and stunning horse fields that line Shelbyville Road as we make our way to Shelbyville, Kentucky. Our journey leads us to one of our favorite spots, Jeptha Creed Distillery, where old-fashioned is made new again. From its old 1926 Ford Model T Roadster sitting out front, one of several prized collectibles of founder Bruce Nethery, to the modern rustic feel of its interior, Jeptha Creed reminds us to appreciate our history and encourages us to make our own.
We sat down with Jeptha Creed’s Marketing & Creative team member Christian Kern. There are times in your life when you meet people and just know they are good folk, and Christian Kern is good folk. With his infectious personality, this handsome young man quickly made us feel welcome and at home. He was more than happy to share Jeptha’s story and his own history with the Nethery family. A native Floridian, Christian was hired shortly after the doors opened at Jeptha Creed Distillery in November 2016. “It’s a great place to work. The family is great to work with and everyone chips in and does whatever is needed to get the job done,” Christian told us.
A Family Affair
Jeptha Creed began in 2014, born out of local entrepreneur Bruce Nethery’s dream to open a distillery. Working together, Bruce and his wife Joyce brought Bruce’s passion to life. A chemical engineer by trade, Joyce’s own interest in distilling was rediscovered by chance when she attended Moonshine University in Bruce’s place. Bruce was originally signed up but was unable to attend due to his busy schedule and, as it turned out, Joyce was a natural. Moonshine University, located in downtown Louisville, is where Distilling Mastery is actually taught by Masters – and where Joyce coined the phrase “ground to glass,” which means they use the crops grown on their farm to make the spirits that they use in their cocktails.
Jeptha Creed’s Female Owners
Although Bruce is the man behind the vision and design of Jeptha Creed, it is Joyce and her daughter Autumn Nethery who are currently the proud co-owners. The successful duo carries with them strong credentials. Joyce, one of just a few female master distillers in Kentucky, has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville, along with that Moonshine University certification. Autumn earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing at the University of Kentucky and also studied abroad at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, learning her craft from some of the best distillers in the world.
Sit Down With Autumn
On a recent visit, Autumn stopped by and we asked her what it was like working with her family, and she said, “We have always worked together, but you have to like your family for it to work.’ ‘She went on to tell us that everyone in the family lives on the farm.
The 1,000-acre Nethery farm in Shelby County is located on the Jeptha Knobs, which is where, in part, the name Jeptha Creed originated. The area is known for moonshining, and it is said that moonshiners used to keep a lot of skunks to prevent people from nosing around. Building on the family’s Scottish heritage, the “Creed” represents their bond to their customers, standing behind their promise to never use artificial ingredients and their spirit of making sure everyone has a good experience.
How The Spirits Were Born
Jeptha opened its doors in November 2016 with its vodka and moonshine. They released a 2-year bourbon in November 2020 and are set to release a 4-year rye in November 2021. Jeptha Creed is on the Craft Bourbon Trail, aging under 50,000 barrels.
In the beginning, they took some of their Bloody Butcher corn to Devil’s Due Distillery in West Virginia and used their stills to make a wheat, a rye, and a 4-grain mash bill (a mash bill is the recipe for the grain mixture). They were only going to use one mash bill, but when the wheat came off, Joyce said, “this is the one,” and then the rye came off and Bruce said, “no this is the one.” So they left with all three.
Bloody Butcher Corn
Bloody Butcher corn, so named because of its dark red color, is what separates Jeptha Creed from other distilleries. It has a high starch content, and its ISO AMO Alcohol adds a sweetness that you don’t get from yellow corn. Jeptha Creed is the only distillery in Kentucky that uses Bloody Butcher corn in all of its products.
An interesting tidbit about the corn: they planted many different colors of corn on the farm, but it was the red corn that critters found most delicious. They now grow an extra 10%, which they call the “critter share.”
Their bourbon is 75% Bloody Butcher corn and their Vodka is 100%, with no artificial ingredients. Their moonshine has the same mash bill as the bourbon’s “white dog,” unaged bourbon before it goes into the barrel.
The Jeptha Creed Experience
The distillery offers spirit tastings and a barrel tasting experience at the barns, where they pull directly from a barrel to taste. Next year, they’ll be starting a single barrel program where you can buy a barrel and age it with Jeptha Creed. The family are strong supporters of the military, so they are making a red, white, and blue corn bourbon in a barrel that is signed by military veterans who come through the distillery. It’s been aging for 4 years and is set to be released next year.
The Distillery’s Entertainment
Jeptha also hosts live music, and Christian told us, “Our entertainment fits our brand, like rock and country, with entertainers like John King and the Usual Suspects. We asked who his favorite entertainer had been, and he said, “That’s easy: Abby The Spoon Lady.” We’d like to thank Christian for introducing us to the talents of Abby the Spoon Lady. Check out her story and hear her perform in the video at the bottom of our blog.
Christian told us the most fun he ever had at Jeptha was when they used to do their own version of the famous Scottish tradition of the Highland Games, called the Jeptha Games. “There was archery, axe throwing, footgolf, lunch, and filling your own bottle of bourbon to take home with you. It’s a very family-oriented environment – very light-hearted.” They had to halt entertainment due to COVID, but they are planning to resume next year, hopefully, to include another Jeptha Games. They sound so fun!
We love our afternoons at Jeptha Creed. They have a lovely indoor-outdoor area that even on a hot day keeps you cool. We enjoy playing a game of cornhole and sitting and visiting with other guests and Jeptha’s friendly staff. Bartender Megan mixes us up one of our favorite drinks: a Pink 75 (Jeptha Creed Honey Flavored Vodka, Prosecco, Chambord, Rosemary Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice) and a Kentucky Mule (Jeptha Creed Straight 4-Grain Bourbon, Ginger Beer, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Soda Water). Some of our other favorites are the Old-Fashioned, the Mint Julep, and Blueberry Lavender Lemonade, but we haven’t had a cocktail there that we didn’t thoroughly enjoy.
Their cafe offers pizza, snacks, and small bites. We often order their pepperoni pizza, which is delicious. We love love love their pretzels and beer cheese, as well as their spinach artichoke dip. The pretzel sticks are soft and warm and the beer cheese is flavorful with a side of chili mustard. The artichoke dip is creamy with parmesan, and garlic gouda, spinach, and artichokes served with tortilla chips. We also appreciate that Jeptha is dog-friendly so we can bring our Truly girl, who enjoys exploring the property.
Stop by the Distillery
At this beloved distillery, the Nethery family shares their history and lives their creed. We become a part of that history every time we visit Jeptha Creed, and we encourage you to do the same. Go check them out, enjoy a pizza and a cocktail, or schedule a spirit or barrel tasting experience. Ask for Christian, and tell him that the Bluegrass Travelers sent you.