We’ve seen them on every distillery tour: the copper pot stills and copper column stills turning simple ingredients into the golden elixir better known as bourbon. Or, the Kentucky hug, in some circles. But did you know virtually every still we’ll see was custom fabricated at Vendome Copper & Brass Works in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood?
I had the distinct pleasure of joining a behind-the-scenes tour of Vendome (pronounced vin-DOME) with the 30 or so participants from the January Distiller Course through Moonshine University. Although the tour was geared to their coursework and experience – so often times over my head – I was thrilled to see the art and science of how copper becomes stills.
For some background, Vendome has been in business since 1904. They are now in the fourth generation of the family business. Vice President Mike Sherman shared that the Vendome team is currently 10 months out on producing new equipment, with a substantial part of that time allowed for importing the copper from Germany. Copper sheets produced in the U.S. are not the right configuration for creating a large still. Since copper is a critical step in bourbon production (it removes the sulfur smell and taste produced during fermenting), the wait is worth it! There is also the back-and-forth process of what the distiller envisions, and what the Vendome team can produce in the space available in the distillery. It makes for a wide variety of final products that take time to finish.
It was cool seeing all the parts and the still-making process:
And then some finished products, like this monstrosity with two completely separate systems!
Or a column still, waiting for installation in its final home.
New distilleries are popping up every day, it seems. Are you ready to book a custom tour to see more of Vendome’s great work? Reach out to Lee Buckner at Travel the Trail Custom Bourbon Tours at http://www.travelthekytrail.com/ for a great experience!
Click here for more information on Vendome: https://vendomecopper.com/
Interested in the Moonshine University courses? Take a look here: https://moonshineuniversity.com/
Author: Susan Lucas
A Southern Indiana native who recently returned to the area, Susan Lucas discovered a booming arts, bourbon, and cultural community. A natural storyteller, she enjoys sharing all these new experiences with her family and friends.
CATEGORIES: Bourbon Industry