Louisville business introduces luxury ice to bourbon industry

MIDDLETOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's the newest take on the bourbon experience: luxury ice. The chilly business venture is barely a year old, but several big name distillers are already taking notice.

It's Kentucky's proudest beverage. The flavor, the aroma and the way we enjoy our bourbon is a science.

That's why the folks at Kentucky Straight Ice say what we put into the glass with it should be too.

"You're getting ice that melts three to four times slower than your standard ice cube," says Rich Finck, President of Kentucky Straight Ice.

This allows consumers to enjoy bourbon longer before its diluted by water.

Finck is the first to admit he didn't specialize in ice making. He was in the phone business when he got the idea. "I couldn't sleep at night anymore, because I knew this product had to exist and the moment I was able to quit my full time job, I did," Finck said.

Enter Eugene Bell. "I cut my first block of ice in '83," Bell said.

Finck called the ice artisan and instructor at Sullivan University several times and played some phone tag.

"Did some research on it and went, 'You know, I think this has got legs and I think we can go some place with it and we can have a lot of fun doing it'," Bell said.

Luxury ice in any shape and size is made to perfection inside a small warehouse in Middletown.

"We are steadily making an impact on the bourbon here, and I'm very proud to say that we're working with what I consider bourbon royalty," Finck said.

It all starts with limestone filtered water. "It's beautifully clear, because that water's constantly moving underneath the surface," Bell said.

Days later, Bell removes the 300 pound blocks of ice and cuts off any impurities. The blocks are cut into slabs, slabs become sticks and sticks become cubes. 

"If you make ice extremely slowly over four days, instead of our competitors, who are making it over four minutes in mass production, then what you have is an extremely dense, very slow melting ice," Finck said.

Kentucky Straight Ice hopes to sell its product at bars and restaurants, and potentially stores.

Flavored and branded ice is also likely in its future.

This spin on bourbon on the rocks that once had a rocky following is proving the glass really is half full for the dreaming entrepreneur. "Seeing is believing. It's a worthwhile product," Finck said.

Prices range from 25 cents per cube to the more intricate $2 cube.

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