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Aspiring distillery owner says he’ll meet with Madison County residents concerned about plans

Karl Cook's proposed distillery in Madison County near the Kentucky River would be partly solar-powered, according to plans shown to the Madison County Board of Adjustment Feb. 22.
Joseph and Joseph
Karl Cook's proposed distillery in Madison County near the Kentucky River would be partly solar-powered, according to plans shown to the Madison County Board of Adjustment Feb. 22.

Karl Cook is a champion equestrian with an Instagram following of nearly 280-thousand people who wants to build a small distillery on property he bought last fall. When asked why he selected Madison County, Kentucky for his entry into the bourbon business, he said it began with horses.

“Then through my time spent in Kentucky, you know, I started to drink more bourbon, started to get to know people in the bourbon-making industry, which is not hard in this area, and I just fell in love with it.”

Thursday night, the Madison County Board of Adjustments’ tabled Cook’s request for the conditional use permit he needs to build a distillery, rickhouse and visitors center. Cook was listening to the hearing and said he understands worries about the spread of whiskey fungus.

“We're adjusting how the ventilation in the rec house works to minimize it. And the barrels I'm using are of an extremely high quality, which means they have tighter woodgrain. And that results in having less Angel's share, which means less whiskey fungus.”

Cook touted a relationship with UK’s Jim Beam Institute and said his craft distillery would be partly solar-powered and produce a fraction of what companies like Heaven Hill make. He said he’ll be in Kentucky soon to discuss neighbors’ worries. The BOA could vote on his conditional use request next month.

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John McGary is a Lexington native and Navy veteran with three decades of radio, television and newspaper experience.
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