The Filson Bourbon Academy is taking its show on the road.
In response to the surge of interest in bourbon, the Filson Historical Society has appointed Michael R. Veach as the nation’s only professional Bourbon Historian – a position he has held unofficially for years. He will now focus on growing the Filson Bourbon Academy, a one-day educational history and tasting program that he has taught since 2009, in addition to giving other lectures and conducting additional tastings.
“My goal is, besides the two or three here every year, to do another 15 or so Academies in other cities and spread the word across the nation, maybe even internationally,” Mike told me.
He began his career as a research intern with United Distillers. Since 1997, he 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 to studying the distilling industry, and in 2006 was inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame. He’s the author of “Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage” (2013) and is completing a book on bourbon tasting with former Courier-Journal journalist Susan Reigler.
In his experience with the Bourbon Academy, he has found students to be fairly well prepared for class. “I really haven’t run across anybody who was totally ignorant of bourbon – people have a good idea of what bourbon is and its heritage.”
That isn’t to say that they don’t learn something. “There are a lot of things that catch people off-guard and surprise them. For instance, with Prohibition – that some of the things that were going on that led to Prohibition still have political relevance today. Also, many people come out of the class saying, ‘I didn’t know how important the distilling industry has been to American history.’” It’s also a great opportunity to introduce people to the Filson.
The next Filson Bourbon Academy is Sept. 24 at the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago. The Academy will next be held in Louisville on Nov. 2. To keep up with the schedule, “like” the Filson Bourbon Academy page on Facebook. To schedule an academy in your area, call The Filson Historical Society at (502) 635-5083.