Citizens Union Bank (CUB) is frequently among the first to spot market trends, and the bank has always had a deep commitment to women entrepreneurs. Part of that commitment includes providing access to capital, something that is not always readily available to female business owners.
“CUB does a lot of things like this that you don’t necessarily hear of,” says Debbie Prewitt, CUB Market President. “Financing women entrepreneurs is a smart business decision.”
One of the highlights of CUB’s partnerships with women includes financing the construction of Jeptha Creed Distillery in Shelbyville – the only distillery in Kentucky owned by a mother and daughter.
Founder and Master Distiller Joyce Nethery and her 23-year-old daughter, Autumn Nethery, opened the doors in November on their 15,000-square-foot distillery set on 64 acres of green lawn and rolling farmland. They grow their own blueberries, blackberries, apples, mint and an heirloom non-GMO open-pollinated red corn called “Bloody Butcher” that they use in making spirits.
“Financing this has been a leap of faith on both our parts,” Prewitt says of the close partnership between CUB and Jeptha Creed. CUB has even scheduled the bank’s annual meeting on April 28 in the expansive event room at the distillery.
“Women have been involved in the bourbon industry for generations,” says owner Joyce Nethery, who holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from U of L’s Speed School of Engineering. “It’s just that we haven’t heard a lot about them and they didn’t own the business.”
Joyce and her daughter Autumn, who finishes her marketing degree in May at the University of Kentucky, had an exceptionally well thought out plan for this business. Autumn studied for a year at a university in Edinburgh, Scotland where she completed a course in brewing and distilling. She also spent a semester at sea traveling the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Japan where she would tour distilleries while in international ports, including spirits in Hong Kong, Singapore, Myanmar, India and many other locations. Autumn is currently the Marketing Manager at Jeptha Creed.
Joyce, a chemical engineer by profession, completed an intensive 5-day course at the Moonshine University, Distilled Spirits Epicenter at 8th and York Streets in Louisville.
“The class took me back to my chemical engineering start,” Joyce says. “I fell back in love with the chemistry. I fell in love with the equipment, the brass and copper.”
Jeptha Creed currently produces four types of vodka and four moonshines, with a variety of bourbons in development. It is truly a farm-to-table – or in this case, ground-to-glass – enterprise, with Joyce growing the heirloom tomatoes for the homemade bloody Mary mix. The family also makes the fruit juices and its own bacon salt used in cocktails. Joyce’s 18-year-old son Hunter, a senior at Trinity High School, is the head beekeeper and creates the raw honey used in the honey vodka. Joyce’s husband, Bruce has an extensive agricultural background as a dairy farmer and oversees the growing of the Bloody Butcher corn.
“To me, it’s very experiential driven,” Prewitt says of Jeptha Creed. “It’s not just a tour of the distillery, a stop in the gift shop and then you’re done. It’s really a destination place.”
Jeptha Creed has a 5,000-square-foot outdoor patio with comfortable wooden chairs looking out over a beautiful lawn and trees. Bands play live music there every Friday night. The cocktail bar is open and a food truck is on sight so that patrons can make a night of it. The distillery also has a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen where well-known chefs host cooking classes and gourmet food tasting experiences. The large event space with stone fireplace and exposed wood can be used for weddings, meetings and other gatherings.
Joyce has already been a featured speaker at bourbon gatherings around Louisville.
“It’s a place for special occasions,” Prewitt says, “and it will be either the first or last stop on The Bourbon Trail.”