By TAYLOR DURDEN | WAVE 3 News
A decade ago, the bourbon distillery off Interstate 64 in Shelbyville wasn’t even a thought.
“There was no structures whatsoever here,” Jeptha Creed Distillery’s Marketing and Sales Director Autumn Nethery said.
About seven years ago, Joyce Nethery and her husband decided they wanted to build something for their children’s future.
“We wanted to incorporate both sets of skills that we both have,” Joyce said. “My background is in chemical engineering. I have a master’s degree in chemical engineering and worked in industrial distillation for many years. My husband grew up as a dairy farmer, and we had a dairy of our own for a while. And we still live on the farm.”
Soon after, the “Ground to Glass” concept came to life, and Jeptha Creed Distillery was born.
The whole process includes the whole family.
“(My husband) grows it, I distill it,” Joyce said. “Autumn is our marketing director (and) gets it out the door.”
The distillery uses bloody butcher corn for their products.
“We make beautiful vodkas, beautiful moonshines, beautiful bourbon with that bloody butcher corn,” Joyce said. “So flavorful.”
Joyce and Autumn say the close partnership isn’t bad at all.
“It’s just like growing up on a farm, working with family day in and day out,” Autumn said.
Jeptha Creed Distillery opened in November 2016.
“We love it,” Joyce said. “We’re very proud. We think it’s awesome.”
It’s the only mother-daughter owned and operated distillery in Kentucky.
“The fact that we’re a mother daughter team makes us unique and gives us a little bit of a standout point,” Joyce said.
The mother-daughter duo has invited other people to join them too, including their head distiller Stephanie Preston.
“Coming in here, the family really has welcomed me with open arms,” Preston said. “We do things side by side. I get to help them not only make my dreams come true, but help them make their dreams come true.”
Preston oversees production and bottling. Alongside Joyce, she takes barrell samples and blends to make sure the products are where they should be.
“It’s very humbling because when you talk about what you do, people are like, ‘Isn’t that normally a man’s job?'” Preston said. “But growing up for me, I never let my gender define that. I grew up doing a very competitive shooting sport that was heavily male dominated, but just because I was a female, (I) wasn’t going to let that stop me. I went on to win some big titles, do some Olympic training, things like that. And so it’s funny because my mom always says you never let that stop you.”
“So to try to pave a way and be a female in an industry that’s really male-dominated, it didn’t intimidate me. I just said, ‘OK, this is what I want to do.’ And I always grew up learning if you want to accomplish something, you’re going to work hard, and no one is going to hand it to you. So that’s what I did.”
Autumn Nethery said the idea of being a woman in a male-dominated industry isn’t necessarily at the top of her mind.
“I don’t like to think of myself as someone leading the charge,” Autumn said. “I don’t know. Seems like a weird concept. You get on and see these people, these women, that are doing these amazing things and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s great. I wanna be like them.’ It’s hard for me to imagine someone thinking like that about me.”
The Netherys say they aren’t focused on leading the charge; they just care about what they are doing at Jeptha Creed.
“As we’re working every day, we don’t think of ourselves as a women-owned distillery or women owning a distillery,” Joyce said. “We’re a distillery. We’re making great products. That’s what’s important. The fact that we’re women is secondary.”
When thinking about younger generations of women hoping to be in the bourbon industry, the women at Jeptha Creed agree it’s important to step out and try.
“If it’s what you want to do, go for it,” Preston said. “No one should stand in your way, but you’re going to have to fight for it. Just like if you were a guy coming up in an industry, it’s not going to be handed. Be ready to work and be ready to work hard, because it’s not easy.”
For more information about Jeptha Creed, click or tap here.