The Filson Bourbon Academy™ is a brand-neutral program unique to The Filson.  Since its founding in 1884, The Filson has preserved the region’s collective memory, not only in Kentucky but also the Ohio Valley and Upper South.  The Filson continues to collect and tell significant stories of the region through its extensive research collections and educational programs. The Filson’s Bourbon Academy™ mission is centered on education and adding to our already internationally recognized archives and special collections of a product that is synonymous with Kentucky – Bourbon.

The Filson’s Bourbon Academy™ Partners:

Among The Bourbon Academy™ partners are The Bourbon Review, the Kentucky Distiller’s Association (est. 1880), The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Bourbon Country®, and The Urban Bourbon Trail.

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The Filson’s Bourbon Historian, Michael Veach, has taught brand-neutral Filson Bourbon Academies – a one-day educational history, review of our special collections archives, and tasting – since 2009. The Bourbon Academy™ offers bourbon enthusiasts, historians, distributors, restaurants, hotels and professionals an in-depth educational background of the history and making of Kentucky bourbon along with hands-on opportunities to taste and compare bourbons with experts.

Upcoming Bourbon Academy™ Dates:

  • Check back soon for dates in 2016!



More Bourbon Salon podcasts





Filson Bourbon Salon Part 4: Top Bourbon Bars, by Mike Veach

Oxmoor57This is the fourth in a series of The Filson’s Bourbon Salon Tastings to take place in the Library of historic Oxmoor Farm. Moderated by Michael Veach, this evening will focus on three different bourbon bars in three different cities, each with a distinctive theme.

One bar sells bourbon with only a limited cocktail selection, one sells bourbon with a wide variety of cocktails, and one is a restaurant with a great bourbon bar.

Join Mike Veach as he talks with the owners of three separate bourbon bars: Jason Brauner, one of the owners of Bourbons Bistro in Louisville; Molly Wellmann, owner of The Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, Ky.; and Joseph Head, owner of The Century Bar in Dayton, Ohio.


Pappy Van Winkle - How 1 Photo Changed Course of Bourbon Industry

WHAS 11-20-2014 Pappy Story Art 2LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The fog of history is thick on a property in Shively. The property was once the most famed bourbon distillery in the world, Stitzel Weller.

It opened on the day they ran the 61st Kentucky Derby, in 1935. Julian Van Winkle, Sr., skipped the Derby that day, instead walking the Stitzel Weller property.

He is the man who built the distillery and ran it until the year before he died in 1965. He is already known to everybody as "Pappy."

Mike Veach of Louisville's Filson Historical Society, the only non-distiller inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame, says he was a force. Read More ...

The One-Day Bourbon Academy™:

The one-day Academy is an eight hour class. Participants learn about the heritage of Bourbon Whiskey and have the opportunity to taste several different styles of Bourbon and other American Whiskeys. A typical Academy schedule includes:

  • Session 1: The Origins of Bourbon Whiskey
  • Session 2: Tasting Bourbon
  • Session 3: 19th Century Bourbon
  • Session 4: Tasting Tennessee Whiskey and Rye
  • Lunch Break
  • Session 5: Early 20th Century Bourbon and Prohibition
  • Session 6: Tasting Single Barrel and Small Batch Bourbons
  • Session 7: Post Prohibition to Present
  • Session 8: Blind Tasting and Graduation

Participants completing the one-day course are awarded with a Certification and eligible with a STAR certification to become a “Official Bartender of the Bourbon Trail.” Participants are also presented a Glencairn whiskey tasting glass and a booklet of sources for future study and reference.

The Filson's Bourbon Barons - Significant Individuals in the Bourbon Industry:

The one-day Academy and The Filson's Bourbon Barons: "Significant Individuals" can be given together or separately in any order.  While the Bourbon Academy is a full-day class, including bourbon tastings, the Bourbon Barons class is half-day.  In the "Significant Individuals" class, participants  will look at people and Bourbons that helped shape the Bourbon industry of today.  It will be an in depth look at individual people and the Bourbons they created or are named for them.  A typical schedule includes (all interspersed with bourbon tastings):

  • Session 1: What is Bourbon and how to taste. A look at the definition of Bourbon and a brief look at the history. A look at the six sources of flavor and the tastes found in Bourbon.
  • Session 2: William LaRue Weller and family. A look at this early whiskey merchant and W.L. Weller Bourbon.
  • Session 3: E. H. Taylor, Jr. A look at this important leader in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and his Old Taylor Bourbon.
  • Session 4: George Garvin Brown. A look at the creation of Old Forester Bourbon as the first Bourbon sold only by the bottle.
  • Lunch Break
  • Session 5: Isaac Wolfe Bernheim. The history of Bernheim as a whiskey merchant and his contributions to the State of Kentucky and elsewhere. Bernheim wheat whiskey will be tasted with this session.
  • Session 6: James E. Pepper. Distiller and race horse owner, Pepper led the way in many innovations in advertising. James E Pepper bourbon will be tasted.
  • Session 7: Julian P. Van Winkle. This whiskey merchant led the way with many 20th century innovations in the marketing of whiskey. His grandson and his Old Rip van Winkle continues this tradition today.
  • Session 8: Summary of the influence of these individuals and the shaping of the today’s Bourbon image.

Participants completing the each one-day course are awarded with a Certification and eligible with a STAR certification to become a “Official Bartender of the Bourbon Trail.” Participants are also presented a Glencairn whiskey tasting glass and a booklet of sources for future study and reference.

The Bourbon Academy™ Faculty:

Academy programs and events are led by Michael Veach, Filson Bourbon Historian. Since 1997, Michael has served on the staff of The Filson as a Special Collections Assistant, later moving to Associate Curator of Special Collections. In the past 20 years he has dedicated his time studying the distilling industry. In 2006 Michael was inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame. Michael is the author of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage (2013), which was praised by The Wall Street Journal, Courier-Journal, and other national media. He is currently completing a second book on bourbon tasting with former Courier-Journal columnist Susan Reigler.

The Filson Bourbon Academy™ offers:

  • A One-Day Bourbon Academy™
  • A Half-Day Bourbon Academy™
  • A Rare Bourbon Tasting and Discussion
  • Premium Bourbon Tasting and Discussion
  • Private Corporate Events
  • Private Staff Training for the Food and Beverage & Hospitality Industries
  • Customized Educational and Tasting Lectures for organizations and individuals involved directly or peripherally in the bourbon industry.

The Filson’s Bourbon Academy™ Geographic Scope:

National in scope, The Bourbon Academy™ is available throughout the United States and North America on a first come basis in terms of event scheduling. The Filson Historical Society expects to make the Academy available on an international basis in 2016-17. For more information about The Filson Bourbon Academy™, to schedule or host an event, please contact Michael Veach,