Dant Crossing & Log Distillery: Kentucky's Disneyland of Bourbon
A vintage train carrying bourbon lovers rattles through the undulating knob hills of Nelson County, Kentucky, home to tiny Bardstown, known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World” because the town produces most of the world’s bourbon. It rolls past cattle grazing in verdant pastures and horses peeking at the interloping vehicle through wooden fences.
In the bar car, some sip Monk’s Road bourbon from elegant snifters, savoring smooth vanilla nuances between slow drags on fine cigars, while others relish the peppery bite of Monk’s Road rye whiskey. There’s a burgeoning sense of camaraderie amongst the group, united in their passion for “America’s native spirit.”
That’s what John Wallace “Wally” Dant III envisions for the next phase of Dant Crossing, the new 350-acre, bourbon-themed entertainment complex with Log Still Distillery at its heart. Think of it as the Disneyland of bourbon. A collaboration with the nearby Kentucky Railway Museum will help facilitate a 45-minute excursion through the pastoral setting where seven generations of Dants have distilled bourbon.
Dant is reviving the family’s bourbon legacy that began in 1836 when an ancestor distilled whiskey in a hollowed-out poplar log. The new distillery will sit on the site of the old operation that closed decades ago.
When it’s completed later this year, the $30 million complex will have a 22,000-square-foot events center, a farm-to-table restaurant called 47 and Poplar (47 is the old distillery number) and, of course, a craft distillery that can produce 15,000 barrels of bourbon annually.
An expansive tasting room with floor-to-ceiling windows showcases the bucolic view. Of course, bourbon must age, and since the Log Still has yet to produce its first barrel, the tasting room is stocked mostly with a line-up of debut products that don’t require aging: Monk’s Road Barrel-Finished Gin, Monk’s Road Dry Gin and Rattle and Snap Tennessee Whiskey. The exception is the 6-year-old Monk’s Road Fifth District Series bourbon that will be sourced from another local distillery until Log Still is complete.
Monk’s Road bourbon is named for the road that leads to the distillery from the Abbey of Gethsemani, the monastery that was home to the Trappist monk Thomas Merton.
The Amp at Dant Crossing, a 2,000-seat amphitheater, is gearing up to be one of the region’s top music venues. When it opened last summer, a star-studded lineup that included a sold-out Little Big Town show drew music lovers from far and wide. An equally exciting line-up is expected to take the stage this spring.
Nearby is the Homestead at Dant Crossing, a cozy five-bedroom bed and breakfast in a restored lakefront farmhouse that has been in the Dant family for generations.
Dant is often asked what inspired him to pursue his dream of Dant Crossing, and the answer is simple – the pull of family.“With Log Still Distillery and our Monk’s Road spirits, I get to honor my forefathers’ legacy, work alongside my cousins and build something to pass along to our children,” Dant said. “The destination we’re creating at Dant Crossing is so other families can come and make lasting memories together. At the end of the day, honoring the past, present and future generations is the reason for all of this.”
IF YOU GO
Distillery Tours Dant Crossing.
225 Dee Head Road New Haven, Kentucky
Heaven Hill Distillery.
1311 Gilkey Run Road Bardstown, Kentucky
3350 Burks Spring Road Loretto, Kentucky
Lux Row Distillers.
1 Lux Row Bardstown, Kentucky
Kentucky Railway Museum.
136 South Main Street
New Haven, Kentucky
The Homestead at Dant Crossing.
121 Dee Head Road
New Haven, Kentucky
Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist & Convention Commission.
1 Court Square