Restaurant opens at Maker's Mark Distillery, the first of its kind in Kentucky

LORETTO, Ky. (WDRB) -- A historic 1800s home at Maker's Mark Distillery has been transformed into Star Hill Provisions, a full-service restaurant and bar on distillery grounds. 

It's the first time in Kentucky an independent owner is operating a restaurant on distillery grounds. Chef and owner Newman Miller says it's a unique opportunity to take advantage of a prime location. 

"There's 174 employees on site, and 100 of them are farmers," Miller said. "So we have a program right now ... to buy directly from employees." 

Miller wants visitors to taste Kentucky in every bite and sip. 

"When you come here you eat country ham, you drink bourbon,” Miller said. 

A huge feature of the restaurant is the hand-crafted cocktails. It’s the first time cocktails will be served on site in Maker's Mark history, thanks to a law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2016. 

"It puts us on equal footing with a lot of other states and puts us above where we should be,” Miller said. 

The new regulations give locals and visitors a new experience: drinking bourbon, where it's made, with local foods. 

"They're curious about the bourbon, but when they get here, they want to know how to pair it, what to do,” said David Dickerson, Secretary for the Kentucky Cabinet of Public Protection.

"The ability to drink bourbon where it's from, I think, increases the impact,” Miller said. 

It's just one more thing to show how the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is booming. 

"Kentucky Bourbon Trail tourism has grown over 300 percent in the last 10 years,” Dickerson said. 

Distilleries are taking advantage of the new rules but staying true to the region's roots. 

"I think that when people come to bourbon country, they really look for history and a sense of history," Miller said. "We want to make sure they get it."

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