New Business Venture
Louisville’s Prather announces plans to build Henry Co. distillery
Six-Mile Distillery, history park to be family oriented
DEFOE, Ky. (October 2016) – When Damien Prather was a college student, Dr. Thomas D. Clark ignited a love of Kentucky history in him. From that experience he has delved into the history of Henry County and plans to open a distillery and history park to honor the county’s legacy.
Clark, one of Kentucky’s most notable historians, “turned me on to history,” said Prather, 53, of Louisville. His retelling of the “unvarnished history” of Kentucky impacted Prather far beyond his college years.
Photo by Helen McKinney
Louisville businessman Damien Prather is planning to open a distillery near Pleasureville, Ky.
Prather owns property on Castle Highway in Defoe, near Pleasureville, where he hopes to construct a distillery and history park within the next year. What was once a hog farm has been cleaned up and will become the Six-Mile Creek Distillery.
“It’s a great opportunity for the county,” said Brent.
The facility will manufacture Patriot Brands, of which Prather is the owner and founder. The distillery is a $5 million investment for Prather and is expected to employ 15 people by the time it opens in fall 2017.
When he bought the property, Prather “had no intention of putting in a distillery,” he said. He had owned the property for several years before friends encouraged him to think seriously about opening a distillery. “As a steward of the property, I thought this would be the best way to showcase it,” he said.
He knew the property held potential when he first saw it, but it took a while to clean up. Prather said he had to get rid of 80 four-yard containers of garbage and remove more than 200 tires.
After this he could see its value, just as the land’s original Low Dutch Co. of settlers had when they purchased the acreage from Squire Boone, younger brother of Daniel Boone. Prather, who knew about the Low Dutch, delved into the history of the area and got in contact with Vince Akers, a Low Dutch historian who had ancestors in the area. He also learned that Six-Mile Creek was named by Squire Boone.
“There is an old barn on the property that dates to the 1790s,” Prather said. Three new additional barns will be constructed to include a Ponderosa-style and Gambrel-style barn. The main 8,000-square-foot distillery will be located in a five-story barn, with a museum planned for the second floor of the same building.
Plans call for a Visitor Center, a 15,000-square-foot bed and breakfast, tree house reconstructed 18th century log cabin and grist mill. Prather said he envisions the property as an area in which to hold events and programs, while learning local history.
“In all of my research, I found that distilleries were a necessary way of life in the early days.” He was also intrigued by the history of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. “This property is located among some of the best bourbons in the world.”
When people visit, he hopes to “try and offer a true craft experience. It will be very interactive.” Six-Mile Creek Distillery will sit within an hour’s drive from both Lexington and Louisville.
Originally from Louisville, Prather owns a construction company, PRA-CON, which specializes in hospitality-type projects. He has a legal background as well as a tax attorney.
Prather also wants to create a park-like setting on the property in Defoe. During a recent press conference to announce tax credits for the project, “the governor’s office coined it a ‘history park,’ ” he said, a theme, which has seemed to stick.
He found this a perfect way to highlight contributions made to Kentucky’s history by early settlers and patriots who fought for freedom. Prather is employing members of the local Amish community to build structures on the property.
Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent said he “really likes the concept. Damien has researched the area, and it will be more than a distillery. It will be a tourist destination because there will be lot’s to participate in. It will also be a family destination.”
Located in the far eastern part of Henry County, Brent said it “will be a neat thing for the county. There is not a lot of businesses located in that end of the county. Since it’s not being built near the interstate, people will have to drive through about 20 miles of Henry County. It will open up the opportunity for other businesses to come in as well.”
Prather said he “got a vote of confidence from Fiscal Court. They are willing to help and do what it takes.” Both parties “believe people will travel to see us. It will be worth the trip.”
Henry County Fiscal Court will consider abating the distillery’s property tax for 10 years as part of the tourism incentive package, Brent said. The county will still collect taxes on tangible property, such as barrels of stored bourbon.
To encourage the investment, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved Patriot Brands for tax incentives of up to $200,000 though the Kentucky Business Investment program. KEDFA also approved the company for up to $200,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act.
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