Corsair Artisan Distillery: Bowling Green's Hidden Treasure

Published: Feb. 11, 2016 at 10:44 PM CST
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With the creation of the TIF District and the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority, downtown Bowling Green is evolving into a bustling business area. One of those businesses is a beehive of creativity right on Fountain Square, but you may not even know about it.

"We're tryin' new things and we're havin' fun doin' it." That comment from Master Distiller Arron Marcum pretty much sums up the philosophy behind Corsair Artisan Distillery.

And while they're having fun, they have created 13 different kinds of spirits; from rum to vodka to gin to absinthe and a whole world of whiskeys. But how did they wind up in Bowling Green?

Well, eight years ago boyhood friends Darek Bell and Andrew Webber wanted to open a distillery in Nashville. But they found the laws pertaining to distilleries more friendly in Kentucky, so they shot up the road to Bowling Green.

The name of the game is "Creativity" and even they don't know what kind of concoction they're going to come up with, depending on the ingredients they use. "Anise, fennel, wormwood, terragon. It all ranges from things in your spice cabinet to things I didn't know about until I got here, ha," said Marcum.

Their ingredients are called botanicals, since they come from plants; in this case, they're using hop pellets, like the hops that go into beer, to make their hoppy whiskey. "So this is called a vapor basket, and that's what's actually going into the still."

They set up a small glass version to show the process. They're using peppermint leaves to create an extract to mix to form new blends. "It'll heat up, Marcum says. "The alcohol will start to come off first. It'll go through the vapor chamber, drawing essences of the botanicals as it goes. They kind of marry together if there's a variety of botanicals. I think we have 11 botanicals that go into our gin."

If it's a clear spirit, it goes into a blender; otherwise it goes into a barrel for aging. When it leaves the still it's 150 proof so they mix in distilled water to bring the bottle proof down to 80, 88, or 92; depending on the product.

"Once it's proofed down," says Marcum, "it will go into a bottle, get labeled by hand, capped by hand, sealed by hand, and write the batch and bottle count on every bottle."

Then it's cased up and shipped out to stores all over the world.

"The dictionary defines artisan as a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods. Well if that's the case Corsair Artisan Distillery certainly qualifies; a little taste of Bowling Green."

Only four employees man the Bowling Green distillery, doing everything by hand, even conducting tours, and managing a gift shop. Corsair may be small, but they're good at what they do, winning 41 medals at competitions around the world.

If you'd like to learn more about this unique downtown treasure, click on the link next to this story to go to their website.

"We're tryin' new things and we're havin' fun doin' it.

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