New Log Still Distillery Traces Its Roots Back To Bourbon’s Beginnings

By Gary Carter / February 5, 2021

A brand new distillery will soon come on line, but Log Still will have a pedigree that goes back about as far as bourbon itself. And at the helm of that venture is JW Dant, a name you might recognize as a brand by the same name is still sold today, by Heaven Hill.

The Log Still story really began in 1836, when JW Dant made a still from a hollowed-out poplar log, firing up his family’s legacy in the Kentucky bourbon business.

And while multiple generations of Dants followed in JW’s footsteps, the family had gotten out of the bourbon business altogether … until now, as JW’s great-great-great-grandson Wally Dant has come to revive the family legacy.

The Dants

The Dants (image via Log Still)

Wally, previously a healthcare entrepreneur, has shifted gears to dive full force into the bourbon business to honor his forefather’s legacy. And as he fires up the new distillery, along comes a multi-million-dollar investment, the project bringing 70 or more jobs to bourbon country.

“We have a very big family … actually, seven generations of big families … so, more cousins than we can count,” Wally said in an interview with us. “And for as long as I can remember, whenever we’d gather, our family would talk about how much we all wished we were still in the bourbon business.”

Wally had a business interest in spirits for a while and actually owned a wholesale distribution company in Tennessee. “One day, one of my clients who happened to be a bourbon distiller from Kentucky, said, ‘Wally, you’ve got an incredible, genuine story to tell. You ought to think about doing this.’ That was in 2017, and that’s when the seed was planted. I created the Log Still Distillery brand a year later and reached out to my talented cousins Lynne and Charles and asked them to join me in this venture.”

The Dants are looking at the American culture of bourbon, at this time in history, and that plays into the development of “site attractions and amenities” for the new Log Still Distillery.

“Bourbon is the only native American spirit, and it is very gratifying to see its popularity on the rise, especially knowing that our family played an important role in bringing bourbon to the world,” Wally said. “So we look back on our history with pride, but our real focus is looking forward and creating a product and a destination … what we call Dant Crossing … where people want to bring their families and then bring them back again. We want to create great bourbon and great family memories for our guests.”

Wally and his fellow Dants offered their hats off to the Kentucky Distillers Association, the Bardstown Chamber of Commerce and all the other organizations that helped make their part of Kentucky a true tourist destination.

Log Still Being Built

The new Log Still distillery being built (image via Log Still)

“I believe the bourbon trail and its nearby distilleries have helped capture the interest of a broad audience and certainly taken the demand for bourbon to another level,” Charles Dant said. “Our hope is to create a place for visitors who want an authentic experience. You can always create a brand, but seven generations of family history in bourbon-making is something only a very few of us can claim.”

Speaking of their family history, Lynne Dant said there are recipes and other instructions held over from the original JW Dant that factor into Log Still’s business.

Her grandfather was Will Dant, who was the president and head distiller for Dant & Head Distillery, which operated on the very same property in the 1930s where Log Still now operates.

“Grandaddy kept detailed journals of his own distilling plans, and in those he referred to the original mash bills created by Joseph Washington Dant, who got our family started in the bourbon business using that hollowed-out log for a still,” Lynne said.

Her grandfather also had several of his own mashbills, some have been tried and others haven’t … yet. “I have his old journals, thanks to my dad, who held onto them. The Dants were known for a premium, ‘high rye’ bourbon, and that is our starting point. And just like the Dants have been doing for years, we plan to experiment and play around with various recipes. We will be rooted in our history but still be exploring and having fun as we move forward.”

And that’s good news for bourbon lovers. Log Still will have two primary brands, Monk’s Road and Rattle & Snap.

Monk’s Road is the signature bourbon brand that pays homage to the recipes of Dant’s forefathers. The flavor profile includes vanilla, nutmeg, rye and signature spice that Lynne said has been synonymous with the Dant family for nearly 200 years.

“This product is aging in barrels in Kentucky as we speak, and we can’t wait to share it with the world. In the meantime, we’re excited to say that Monk’s Road dry and barrel-finished gins will be available in the very near future,” Lynne added.

They are rolling out the first bourbon in their Monk’s Road Lost Distillery Series soon. With this series, they are paying homage to pre-Prohibition era distilleries with a limited offering of hand-selected spirits.

First up is a Cold Spring Distillery Limited Release. Cold Spring was founded right across the street from the distillery today by J.B. Dant, a son of Joseph Washington Dant, in the 1870s.

Lynne explained that Rattle & Snap is the brand where “we get a little more adventurous with our flavor profiles. We’ve got a line of delicious Tennessee Whiskeys rolling out this year as well.”

Log Still Distillery products will be available to guests as soon as they open their mini-still and tasting room at the Gethsemane, Kentucky, distillery in early March.

“We will start our distribution in Kentucky and Tennessee, and we have an aggressive plan to roll out to additional states over the next several years,” Lynne said. “We will also be selling products on our website at www.Logstilldistillery.com.”