Bourbon and the promise of economic development and increased tourism it can bring to the area played to a packed house Thursday evening at the Cox Building in downtown Maysville.
Maysville Mayor David Cartmell called it “an extraordinary event for an extraordinary city and county” as he opened the Community B-Line Briefing, an event designed to introduce Maysville’s inclusion on the B-Line to the public.
The B-Line is Northern Kentucky’s answer to the Bourbon Trail, which hosts more than 1 million visitors each year, said Julie Kirkpatrick, vice president of Sales and Marketing for meetNKY, the group behind the B-Line.
While the Bourbon Trail plays into the heritage of Bourbon through major distilleries like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, the B-Line will highlight the rise of craft distilleries that include the Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville.
The B-Line was born from an excursion by John Stanton to Frankfort to explore ways of boosting tourism in Northern Kentucky. Stanton, director of External Affairs at Kenton County, said he eventually landed at the cabinet overseeing tourism where he was advised he needed to put “more Kentucky in Northern Kentucky.”
From that comment, came the idea to capitalize on Bourbon tourism, one of the fastest growing segments of tourism in the nation. The concept took off with the Ohio River as the crossing point into Bourbon country — the B-Line.
Stanton said every conversation he had concerning the concept turned to Maysville as the most asked about topic. Limestone, as Maysville was once known, he said, is arguably where the Bourbon story began and was the starting point for shipments of Bourbon to ports north and south.
“Maysville, where Bourbon began its journey,” should be embraced as a tool to entice tourists to Maysville for visits to Old Pogue Distillery and to the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center where the center not only features a Bourbon exhibit but where a current expansion is underway to include The Old Pogue Experience in the adjacent Limestone Building.
According to information from the KYGMC, the building’s first floor will be dedicated to The Old Pogue Experience, showcasing the Pogue family history in the Bourbon industry, along with Maysville and Mason County’s distilling history. It will include Bourbon-related exhibits, Old Pogue Master Select Bourbon and Pogue’s other products. The area is funded by and decorated with many historical industry artifacts from the Pogue family.
Fifth-generation distiller John Pogue said the distillery has expanded its distilling capabilities in Maysville and he has been charged by his family “to make more Bourbon than I ever have in my life.” He said the family is happy to be able to move the Old Pogue Experience downtown.
Maysville City Manager Matt Wallingford and City Clerk Lisa Dunbar addressed the city’s plan to apply for a license to make the downtown area an entertainment destination. The city will apply for the license on July 7, Dunbar said.
Once established, the EDC will open up the quota system for more by-the-drink licenses for businesses within and adjacent to the EDC. The license will also allow patrons to move throughout the zone, taking with them their drinks in plastic containers.
“We want Maysville to be a destination,” Wallingford said. “This is positive change; we are moving forward.”
“Get on board or get left behind,” he said, “because it’s going to explode.”
Caroline Reece, Maysville Main Street director, said the B-Line is already having an impact with more buildings sold in the downtown area in the last few months than were sold in the past five years.
Kirkpatrick encouraged businesses to cater to Bourbon tourist and to diversify the experience for visitors.
Following the presentation, questions from those attending were encouraged and those offered ranged from the impact the EDC might have on current businesses to the process for bars and restaurants to be included in the B-Line.
Bourbon-related refreshments for the event were provided by Chandler’s, the only Maysville restaurant currently on the B-Line.