View Full Version : Maysville and Its Importance

09-18-2011, 12:57
I always wanted to visit Maysville. Whiskey was shipped from there down the Ohio and bourbon in good part acquired its reputation as a result of the whiskey being distributed afar via that river port. The shipping itself probably helped create the product, through the rolling and extra wood contact during the trip.

On this recent visit to Bardstown for KBF, I got the chance because to get a flight out today from Cinci on points, I had to leave at 10:30 a.m. Had I stayed over Saturday night for Gazebo, I couldn't have gotten to the airport in time, (unless I left at 6:00 a.m. or something but I didn't want to do that). So I decided to stay somewhere closer to Cinci airport and finally chose a location just south off the 75/71. That gave me the chance to drive to Maysville Saturday morning. It took about 3 hours what with stopping here and there and figuring out Hertz's GPS which is different than mine at home.

The landscape north of Lexington and Frankfort and towards the Maysville area is drier and not as attractive as around Bardstown. Nice enough, but no wow factor. Some nice horse farms and older towns. I couldn't see any liquor stores. Driving a couple of miles out of Maysville, the area turned sort of garish and commercial, and I thought, have I made a mistake? Then I saw a Best Western in the center of this rather colorless area, larger than Bardstown's and a good example of the worthy chain, but at a busy intersection and without apparently a gazebo in the back. So I thought, hmmm my idea of Maysville being a future Gazebo locale probably won't work.

I drove on. Suddenly all the commercial detritus fell away and I was driving through a deep gorge, high rock walls on my left shot through with greenery of various kinds. I come out of the gorge and a bit further on, the entrance to the town proper appeared, you turned left onto what was clearly its main street. There was a liquor store there called Kentucky Liquors. I stopped. No dusties except for three (filled) bottles, one an Overholt, that looked like from the 1960's or so. They were not for sale though. Rolling into town in my SUV, I saw handsome Victorian/Georgian structures, in a serried rank, mostly brick-built. And two streets behind the main one, the same thing but with numerous churches, RC and Protestant denominations, some elegant and tall, attesting to the town's importance in the past. I drove down to the river where there was a monument of some kind. I walked out the door to see closer, and a beautiful river view emerged with a bridge as its centerpiece which looked like a smaller version of Golden Gate Bridge. The river was calm and peaceful and there were just a couple of people on the banks, fishing. There was a park-like area there where you could sit or picnic, but no one was there.

I wandered around town and noticed the Limestone name on various business signs and in the name of Limestone Square, so clearly the old name is remembered from when the bourbon was shipped out from there. There were some nice antique and other shops and a couple of restaurants, one bar too with an Irish theme, but the town is not like Bardstown which is a busy commercial center and hub. Maysville is quieter, perhaps a backwater, but in some ways I like that because it showed the town has changed less than had it modernized heavily in the 1900's. It was as if preserved intact from the 1880's, or so it struck me.

I wanted to examine the riverfront more but much of it is blocked by a grey wall and I didn't know if I could get behind it, and didn't have time because I wanted to be in Newport for the evening. It's still a lot of driving to do all that, and I was by myself.. Maybe next time. I noticed a handsome hotel called French Quarter Inn which looked suitable for a future gathering of SB-ers willing to see this emblem of bourbon history. I hope next spring to stay overnight there for Thursday night and the next two in Bardstown for Gazebo. If I go there, I'll suggest to those who might be interested to come along as a "different" night before the GN Gazebos in Bardstown.

Driving out of town, I noticed a scatter of elegant homes on a woodsy bluff overlooking the river. One had a sign on it, The Ryan-Pogue House. That's the Pogues I believe of Pogue bourbon fame, the people behind the Pogue bourbon and who are planning a craft distillery in the town, site of the family's distillery when it was in full flush in the 1800's. I once met a Pogue (Peter I think) and enjoyed talking to him about his family's involvement in the bourbon business past and present. The Pogue distillery was one of many in and around Maysville which was an active bourbon distilling area well after the early Limestone years, i.e., not just an early trans-shipment point.

The drive along Route 8 was sylvan in its beauty. At times the river looked pastoral, which is not my image of the Ohio, which shows you what I know. There were flower-flecked meadows often between the road and the river, and hilly or rolling terrain usually to the left, always very lovely. I was virtually alone on the road. That particular stretch seems a forgotten part of America. In the past lots happened there, lots of Civil War-related things, remembered on plaques up and down the blue highway (Maysville has plenty too). The van moved on and the quiet was broken only by GM's V-8 and Hendrix howling from the Bose's.


09-18-2011, 13:26
Very nice, focused travelogue, Gary. Thanks.


09-18-2011, 17:14
Thanks Tim.

A picture of a Maysville street, from the Internet:


By the way the gray wall along the river (not seen here) is a flood wall.

09-22-2011, 20:37
Very nice write up, Gary.

Newport also has the flood walls as seen in Maysville. The landscape south of 10 all the way to the TN - VA border is the most spectacular of KY, imo. May not follow the history of bourbon, but some of the best scenery and roads that one can travel.

I'd be interested in a gazebo in Maysville. I had full intentions of attending KBF this year, but the four letter word "work" got in the way. Maysville is close enough that those of us that can't make the KBF could still get together for a toast or two.


09-23-2011, 03:45
Thanks for this. I am thinking of spending Thursday night there prior to the weekend Sampler '12 starts, just the one night and next two in Bardstown. In the new year I'll post more details.


09-23-2011, 07:30
The Pogues might be willing to sponsor/host a distinguished group of bourbon opinion-makers, or even us.

Maybe they'll even play their hit, "Streams of Whiskey."