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NFL legend and his wife are bringing Bardstown its first craft distillery

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, 4 p.m. — NFL football legend Lou Palatella and his wife Marci Palatella are bringing the Bourbon Capital of the World its first craft bourbon and whiskey distillery.

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Lou Palatella was a standout player for the University of Pittsburgh who went on to play pro football with the San Francisco 49’ers.

After his pro football days as a San Francisco 49’er, Lou Palatella has had a long history in the liquor distribution business in Southern California. He also owns his own tequila company, Campeón. His wife Marci has extensive experience in distribution as well. The company she started in 1985 is today one of the leading international distributors of wine and spirits.

According to a Whiskeycraft Distillery press release, the company’s craft distillery application means the Palatella family is officially putting down roots in Bardstown and Nelson County.

Lou Palatella’s experience also includes doing business in Kentucky for more than 60 years, including several decades doing business in Bardstown and Nelson County. And during his career, he has worked with many of Kentucky’s bourbon whiskey legends.

”When I started out in the whiskey business, big corporations for the most part had not arrived yet,” he said. “Distilleries here were owned by people, really wonderful families, and the brands back then were personal to us and our customers.

“We had real relationships at small local distilleries, places like Makers Mark, Four Roses, and Stitzel, where I’d sit on the front porch with Pappy Van Winkle drinking mint juleps and talking bourbon, or visit with local retailers and decide how we were going to conquer the bigger players,” he said.

“Having a long history in the business, I miss those days. We’d like be part of reintroducing artisan craft brands from this area to today’s bourbon drinkers, and we’re excited to be here helping to build that for our own family and this town.”

Palatella’s wife, Marci Palatella called Bardstown “a postcard for the perfect small town.”

“It was love at first sight the day I first set eyes on Bardstown, and it’s taken much longer than we ever wanted to plant ourselves in Bluegrass country,” she said.

The Palatellas are buying the Bluegrass Expo and Convention Center located right off the Bluegrass Parkway, which for years has been the site for local events, weddings and industry functions.

“The property has three large buildings where we hope to make some good Kentucky Bourbon,” Lou Palatella said. “Our plan is to continue using the farm for parties, tastings, and other gatherings.

“It’s a beautiful setting, perfect for events. Our family is so proud and excited to be opening the first craft distillery in Bardstown, and to become part of this wonderful community.”

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