The “Six-Milites” were the first pioneers who followed Daniel Boone and his brother, Squire Boone, into the Kentucky wilderness to settle the Six-Mile Creek watershed. They were tough; they had to survive Native American attacks and the Revolutionary War while building a new life on the frontier. But the Six-Milites were optimistic too – despite the dangers and hardships, they saw the possibilities in their new home.
In the same way, Six Mile Creek Distillery founder Damien Prather saw the promise in a rugged, hilly farm trashed and overgrown after 30 years of absentee ownership. At the time, Damien and a buddy, “Winbiggs,” were looking for a farm in the middle of nowhere to teach their city-raised sons about hard work, problem solving, self-reliance, and the pleasures of nature.
Three months and more than 100 farms later, Damien chanced on the property that would become Six Mile Creek Distillery. First impressions weren’t favorable: piles of garbage (eventually 78 40-yard containers worth), burned-out trailers, old cars, more than 200 tires, and 20 acres of “junk” trees.
Yet when Damien and the owner rode their four-wheelers down a steep trail, they arrived at the bottom lands, filled with white-barked sycamores and a beautiful, meandering Six Mile Creek. The picturesque scene looked like something out of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Swiss Family Robinson, and Damien knew he had found a special place.
Damien convinced his wife and Winbiggs that the farm could be a paradise again and they purchased the land. Almost two years of clean-up ensued. Early in the process, Damien broke his ankle in three places after jumping off a tractor into a hole. Like the Six-Milites, he soldiered on, clearing land with a chainsaw while hobbling about with his ankle in a cast.
During the clean-up, Damien sensed something peculiar about an old pegged barn on the property before realizing what it was: Each hand-hewn bent timber rested on a stack of stones – the barn was “floating” in the air. The outer walls were non-supporting curtain walls that could be removed. Research confirmed the barn was more than 200 years old and an American Dutch Barn – his first clue that the farm once belonged to one of the Low Dutch pioneers from the “low” countries of Europe, Holland and Belgium who purchased thousands of acres on the frontier from Squire Boone. Boone and the Low Dutch were among the first prominent distillers in Kentucky.
In February 2015, Damien realized his land lay in the middle of the Bourbon Trail and he had everything needed for a memorable distillery: The best limestone water and grain to make the bourbon, a location steeped in history, and a wonderful story about the first settlers of this land. Six Mile Creek Distillery was born. Raise a glass to the pioneering spirit of the Six-Milites … and the birthplace of Kentucky bourbon.