Inspired by the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a historic site, and the desire to create a lasting legacy, a Northern Kentucky-based woman is set to open a new craft spirits destination. Read on for all the details about this legend in the making.
Jessica Banish is the mind behind Three Keys Distillery, a craft spirits destination that’s set to become part of the Kentucky Craft Bourbon Trail.
Located in Burlington, Kentucky, about four miles from Rabbit Hash, the idea behind Three Keys Distillery was born out of a desire to preserve the J.W. Kite store, which is located on the property where the distillery will soon stand.
“The store is on the National Register of Historic Places, and we knew we wanted to bring it ‘back to life’ and share it within a rich part of Kentucky history,” explains Banish, founder of Three Keys Distillery.
Also on Banish’s mind when launching Three Keys Distillery was her love of bourbon as well as the desire to contribute to Kentucky history in a way that would allow her three sons to carry on the family’s legacy, should they choose to.
“In fact, that is how Three Keys was named,” says Banish. “I wrote ‘3 KY sons’ on a napkin, and shortened it to ‘3 KYS’ and it was then we knew that Three Keys was the name of our business.”
Banish says the atmosphere at Three Keys Distillery is what makes the business unique. “We are truly a destination, as we live on the acreage where we are building our distillery,” she says. “The local history told by and within our J.W. Kite store is something which will transport you back in time to the early 1900s, and our walking trail reveals secrets of the past. Each time we walk the land we discover remnants of the past – recently an old well.”
Banish says she loves being reminded of the world that the only family who has ever occupied the land lived in. It’s the family before hers coupled with the modern edge of her own family that she hopes to create in the legacy of Three Keys Distillery.
The business launched in 2016, and since then Banish says they’ve completed Moonshine University, navigated startup necessities, attended zoning meetings, developed the brand’s vision, and, for the final stages of startup, Banish joined Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures).
“Aviatra has been an absolute kickstart,” says Banish. “The Aviatra network is incredibly diverse, knowledgeable, and giving of time and resources. We honestly would not be as far along without the amazing group, mentors, alumni, and extended network that Aviatra provides.”
With the help from Aviatra in launching her business, this means that Three Keys Distillery will be one of the only distilleries owned by a woman that also has a female master distiller.
“We are fortunate to be within the Greater Cincinnati area, and still have this much history and untouched beauty,” she says. “With close proximity to Rabbit Hash and the recently revived Rabbit Hash Ferry – we are in a great place.”
Banish says that the biggest thing she’s looking forward to with Three Keys Distillery is breaking ground on the permanent distillery early next year. “We are finalizing details and cannot wait to follow through on our commitment to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association to become part of the Kentucky Craft Bourbon Trail, as well as the Northern Kentucky B-Line, and contribute to this area’s reputation of holding the title of an ‘Official Getaway’ to the Bourbon Trail,” says Banish.
To learn more about Three Keys Distillery, visit www.threekeysdistillery.com. You can also “like” them on Facebook. Banish says you can check out the Aviatra Launch class to learn more about the upcoming Flight Night on August 30. “I’ll be presenting the Three Keys business plan to the public, and I’d love to talk to you about it,” she says. Details on that will be announced soon, so stay tuned.