Fill your own bottle at Three Boys Farm
Customer experience is the specialty of newest member of the Kentucky distillery community, Walter Zausch.
One year ago, the entrepreneur and former architect purchased the 10-year-old Three Boys Farm Distillery, served by Blue Grass Energy, from founders Ross and Heather Caldwell in Franklin County. The Henderson native returned to Kentucky in 2013 after working for Apple and Microsoft in California.
“Now I’m in the Silicon Valley of distilled spirits,” Zausch laughs.
Before owning the distillery, Zausch was its wholesale customer for three years, purchasing barrels of bourbon for clients to market private label products.
“I’ve really turned up the relationships with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and tour companies to bring in more visitors and create a ‘backstage tour’ experience that puts the customer at the center,” Zausch says. “It invites them to a working farm distillery. We grow our own corn that goes into our bourbons and whiskeys. They see the process, they see us distilling, and all the way down to tasting bourbon straight out of the barrel.”
Visitors to the 127-acre farm are invited to use a “whiskey thief,” a tool usually reserved for distillers to sample the product.
“They taste four bourbons and one rye, typically,” Zausch says, “and if they fall in love with any of those, they can fill their own bottle straight out of the barrel, label it, seal it, and it’s theirs.”
While larger distillers aim to produce a specific and consistent flavor profile by brand, “We really celebrate the single barrel,” Zausch says, “and how it can change in flavor and expression as it’s aging and affected by temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, etc. That’s a big differentiator for us.”
Zausch is upgrading fermenters and other equipment with a goal to increase production and ultimately land on retail store shelves. For now, the only place to purchase the distillery’s products is by stopping by its barn.
“We are easily accessible in Franklin County right off of I-64,” Zausch says, “And I think we’re one of the best kept secrets in Kentucky.”