Interview with Thomas B. Ripy, January 29, 2014

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:03 - Introduction and career

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Partial Transcript: This is Al Young interviewing Mr. T.B. Ripy on January the 29th, 2014 for the Kentucky Bourbon Tales oral history project.

Segment Synopsis: Thomas B. Ripy talks about growing up in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. He talks about his career as a college professor, and discusses how he became a lawyer. He talks about being assigned to work on President Nixon's impeachment trial.

Keywords: College degrees; College professors; Frankfort (Ky.); Impeachment; Lawyers; Political science; Teaching; Trials

Subjects: Families.; Lawrenceburg (Ky.); Lawyers--Kentucky; Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994

GPS: Lawrenceburg (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.031389, -84.896111
00:02:55 - Pre-Prohibition in Anderson County, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Well now you told us that you were born in 1938.

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about his many family members that were involved in the distilling industry before and after Prohibition. He talks about his great grandfather T.B. Ripy's involvement in the industry. He talks about the research he has conducted on his family and the bourbon industry in Anderson County, Kentucky.

Keywords: Bond and Lillard Distillery; Bourbon recipes; Brothers; Business partnerships; Christmas dinners; E.W. Ripy; Eggnog; Formulas; Grandfathers; Great grandfathers; Mary Dowling; Research; T.B. Ripy; W.B. Saffle Distillery; W.F. Bond

Subjects: Anderson County (Ky.); Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Families.; Genealogy.; Prohibition.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky--History.

GPS: Anderson County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38, -84.99
00:07:57 - Families in the bourbon industry

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Partial Transcript: Well now we, we know that you have touched on, uh, a little bit of, uh, this history and so forth.

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about various families in Tyrone, Kentucky that were involved in the bourbon industry. He talks about how many of them were interconnected. He discusses how Prohibition caused many people in the area to lose their jobs. He describes the house of his aunt, Mary Dowling Bond. He discusses whether any of the families reopened their distilleries after the repeal of Prohibition.

Keywords: Bond family; Bourbon industry families; Cedarbrook Distillery; Dowling family; Employment; Homes; Houses; Jobs; Judge W.H. McBreer; Mexico; Money; Saffle family; Tyrone (Ky.); W.E. Dowling; Wealth

Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Families.; Family-owned business enterprises.; Prohibition.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky--History.

GPS: Tyrone (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.032778, -84.836389
00:17:26 - Mary Dowling's involvement in distilling during Prohibition

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Partial Transcript: You touched on it briefly and you've intrigued me to ask the question. How in the world did a distillery get from Anderson County to Juarez, Mexico?

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about Mary Dowling who ran the Waterfill and Frazier Distillery after her husband's death. He talks about how she continued to operate a distillery during Prohibition, and was raided by government agents. He tells the story of her explanations for her possession of the whiskey, and how she avoided being convicted of the crime. He talks about her efforts to get her seized liquor back, and why she subsequently moved her distillery to Mexico. He talks about her involvement in building a hospital in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

Keywords: Arrests; Bootleggers; Business partners; Civil action; Community involvement; Court clerks; Dowling Brothers Distillery; Hospitals; Juarez, Mexico; Mary Dowling; Medicinal whiskey; Philanthropy; Prohibition agents; Raids; Supreme court; Trials; Warrants; Waterfill and Frazier Distillery; Women's clubs

Subjects: Anderson County (Ky.); Business enterprises, Foreign.; Community development; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Distilling, Illicit; Prohibition.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky--History.; Whiskey.

GPS: Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
Map Coordinates: 31.739444, -106.486944
00:33:11 - Distilling post-Prohibition

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Partial Transcript: If we could let's fast forward a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about his family's involvement with the distilling industry before and after Prohibition. He talks about their distillery, Ripy Brothers Distillery, and the employees there. He talks about visiting the distillery as a child.

Keywords: Business partners; E.W. Ripy; Employees; Farms; Fathers; Grandfathers; Grandmothers; Ice cream; J.T.S. Brown Distillery; Reopening; Ripy Brothers Distillery; Ripy family; Slop; Warehouses; Wild Turkey Distillery

Subjects: Childhood; Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Families.; Family-owned business enterprises.; Prohibition.

00:40:44 - Hoffman Distillery

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Partial Transcript: He had two brothers who w--uh, reopened the old Hoffman Distillery.

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about the Hoffman Distillery, which once bottled whiskey for many other local distilleries. He talks about working at the distillery loading whiskey onto trucks. He talks about heavyweight champion Joe Louis' distilling company whose products were bottled at the Hoffman Distillery.

Keywords: Bond Mill Distillery; Bottling; Boxing gloves; Ezra Brooks Distillery; Hoffman Distillery; Horses; Joe Louis bourbon whiskey; Loading trucks; Old Joe Distillery; Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery; Water sources; Working

Subjects: Advertising.; Branding (Marketing); Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Whiskey industry--Kentucky--History.

GPS: Hoffman Distillery (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.010484, -84.975075
00:47:51 - Local community

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Partial Transcript: Now speaking of the community and the fact that it was at one time a recognized whiskey center.

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about how the community was once made up mostly of locally-owned businesses, and how that has changed over the years. He also talks about how travel has changed over time.

Keywords: Car dealerships; Communities; Frankfort (Ky.); Locally-owned businesses; Traffic; Trains; Traveling; Tyrone (Ky.)

Subjects: Anderson County (Ky.); Family-owned business enterprises.; Small business--Kentucky

GPS: Anderson County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38, -84.99
00:51:29 - Ripy family's involvement in the bourbon industry

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Partial Transcript: You know T.B. it's, it's, uh, interesting to see the Ripy family history and how it has transpired in terms of being one of the big powerhouses in the bourbon manufacturing industry in the early days and right after Prohibition as well.

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about the future of the bourbon industry, including the quality of products and international sales. He talks about whether anyone in the younger generations of his family are interested in the bourbon industry.

Keywords: Four Roses Distillery; Future; Global market; Grandchildren; International markets; Old Joe Distillery; Ripy Brothers Distillery; Sales; Wild Turkey Distillery; Younger generations

Subjects: Anderson County (Ky.); Business enterprises, Foreign.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Export marketing.; Families.; Quality of products.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky

00:54:41 - Kentucky as a popular place for distilling

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Partial Transcript: I'm not sure, uh, what formulas are being used at the distilleries now.

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about various reasons Kentucky may have become the home of high quality bourbon, including access to limestone water and an abundance of corn.

Keywords: Bourbon formulas; Bourbon recipes; Corn; Farmers; Grains; Limestone water sources; Mash bills; Rivers; Traditions; Transportation

Subjects: Distillation.; Distilleries--Kentucky; Immigrants--Kentucky; Irish Americans.; Scottish Americans; Whiskey industry--Kentucky--History.

00:59:43 - Ripy family's involvement in the U.S. Civil War / T.B. Ripy House

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Partial Transcript: T.B. during the American Civil War, Union? Confederate? If so, which side and was anybody in the family with a memorable unit?

Segment Synopsis: Ripy talks about James P. Ripy's involvement with the Confederate army during the Civil War, and talks about others who fought for the Union. He talks about the T.B. Ripy House, how he and George Geoghegan came to own the property, and the restoration they have done to the house. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: American Civil War; Auctions; Bidding; Chevron patterns; Confederate uniforms; Decoration; Entryway; Fireplaces; George Geoghegan III; Holidays; J.P. Ripy Distilling Company; James P. Ripy; John Hunt Morgan; Mantles; Ripy Brothers Distillery; T.B. Ripy; T.B. Ripy House; Union army; Woodwork

Subjects: Distilleries--Kentucky; Distillers.; Dwellings--Remodeling.; Families.; Genealogy.; Historic buildings.; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.; Whiskey industry--Kentucky--History.

GPS: T.B. Ripy House (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.0325, -84.895556