Chamber Member of the Week: Owensboro Bourbon Society

January 24, 2022 | 12:07 am

Updated January 23, 2022 | 7:16 pm

Owensboro Bourbon Society

The Owensboro Bourbon Society traces its humble beginnings to March 2011, when New Jersey native Vincent Carida moved to Owensboro and wanted to share experiences with like-minded bourbon enthusiasts. He approached J’s liquor owner Jeff Oldham, who helped him compose a group of 12 charter members. 

The group has evolved to boast 230 members, growing substantially during the past year and a half despite postponing many meetings because of the looming pandemic. The group is back to meeting the second Wednesday of every month at Green River Distillery.

“Bourbon is booming, which can be good and bad,” Carida said. “The downside is that quality suffers, and some age dates are being taken off. Several craft distillers are popping up, though, and that’s encouraging to me. Whiskeys that weren’t that good are aging nicely.”

Despite popular belief, bourbon can be made outside of the bluegrass state, and while Carida said other states are producing quality bourbons, Carida said the best comes from Kentucky. There are seven primary distilleries in the state that account for most of the world’s bourbon, following a set of century-old standards. 

By law, bourbon must be 51% corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, distilled no higher than 160 proof, enter the barrel at no higher than 125 proof, and assume only its natural color. 

“One of the things we’re doing now is private bourbon tastings where we organize blind tastings, discuss the history, where it comes from, and other nuances,” Carida said. “People can get in touch with me if they want to set up an at-home or virtual bourbon tasting.”

The society’s meetings typically feature an industry expert as a guest speaker with blind tastings. Carida said they are both educational and social. 

“We have the head distiller from Green River, Jacob Call speaking this February, and Brent Elliot, the master distiller at Four Roses, joining us in March,” he said. “We were the second bourbon society ever in Kentucky, and we’re always accepting new members.” 

The Louisville Bourbon Society came first, followed by Owensboro and many others. Carida said the international markets significantly influence trends and that societies have increased drastically within the last decade. 

“Our meetings provide members with an educational and sensory journey through the history of bourbon, the art and science behind the process, and the flavors and finishes which make each bourbon unique,” Carida said.

Carida said people purchasing bourbon as an investment creates a secondary market with sky-high prices. Unfortunately, this can hinder consumption experiences for individuals who just want to enjoy good bourbon. 

The Owensboro Bourbon Society exists to educate inquiring minds and promote and celebrate Kentucky’s “liquid treasure.” The group often goes to distilleries like Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Four Roses, Heaven Hills, and Blantons to handpick barrels for custom bottles. 

For more information or to inquire about membership, contact Carida at 270-684-6761 or via email at [email protected]. Additional information is available on the society’s website here

The Chamber Member of the Week program is a membership benefit of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce. Founded in 1913, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce has worked for over a century to provide valuable benefits and services to member businesses and individuals.

Today, with a membership base of nearly 1,000, the Chamber is a guiding force in community and business development initiatives, serving as the center of business advocacy for the Greater Owensboro region.

To learn more about becoming the Chamber Member of the Week or inquire about Chamber membership, contact Shelly Nichols, Chamber Vice President, at 270-926-1860 or [email protected].

January 24, 2022 | 12:07 am

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