James and McCormick legacies to continue in Adairville with B.H. James Distillers

Posted on November 3, 2022 8:43 PM


Shawn McCormick, owner and founder of B. H. James Distillers, has proudly announced the opening date of his distillery in Adairville, on this Saturday, Nov. 5. McCormick is excited to open his distillery in Adairville as it and Logan County have been home to his family for more than 130 years.

A ribbon cutting will be held Friday with officials from the city and county along with members from the business community. The products currently being produced by B. H. James Distillers will be available to purchase from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday.

The distillery will have a small retail bottle shop open Thursdays through Saturdays starting Nov. 10.

Products will also be distributed by Heritage Wine and Spirits starting first in Western Kentucky and then throughout the commonwealth. B.H. James Distillers is also working on securing distribution in Tennessee.

Once distilling operations are ready, B. H. James Distillers will distill bourbon, rye, corn, and other American whiskies, using as much locally grown grain as possible.

McCormick is grateful for the warm welcome and support from Adairville Mayor Donna Blake, the Adairville City Council, and the Adairville business community and residents. B. H. James Distillers is located in the old Adairville Fire Station just west of the town square at 220 W. Gallatin Street, Adairville.

Initially, B. H. James Distillers will produce two spirit brands. The namesake brand is Burton JamesTM Uniquely AmericanTM Whiskey. The second brand in the B.H. James Distillers' portfolio is James LakeTM Botanical Spirits. A line of small-batch premium vodkas will be the first to debut. The vodkas are crafted from a base of fine neutral spirits distilled from American corn and will feature a range of authentically fresh tasting and aromatic flavored vodkas.

B.H. James Distillers and Burton JamesTM Uniquely AmericanTM are the names chosen by the owner, Shawn McCormick, as a tribute to the legacy of his great-grandfather, Burton Hulon James (well known as B. H. or Huse). James played professional baseball from 1908 – 1919 when he and his wife Estelle settled on her family farm in Adairville. James opened and operated B.H. James Grocers from 1921 to 1939 and was involved in the local dark-fired tobacco industry as the Eastern Dark Fired Tobacco Association director from 1933 until 1959. He also served as Vice President and Director of the First National Bank in Adairville from 1944 until 1959. He was elected a Logan County Magistrate in 1931 and served until his death in January 1959.

James LakeTM is named after the limestone spring-fed lake created by B. H. and Estelle James on their Adairville farm so she could indulge her passion for fishing. Because some of McCormick's favorite memories are fishing and skipping rocks with his great-grandmother at James Lake, he called his botanical spirits James LakeTM. Today the lake is still fed by the limestone spring and is owned and maintained by the Red River Fish & Game Habitat.

Being a long-time bourbon drinker and wanting to own a business, McCormick became inspired to open a distillery after going on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 2012. In January 2015, he purchased his first 16 barrels of Bourbon & Rye whiskies to start the aging process. His original goal was to open the distillery before 2020; however, like a fine whiskey, good things can happen with a little more age. His now 10-year dream is coming to reality Saturday.

McCormick, born in Russellville, has a family history going back at least five generations in Logan County. He is excited about re-establishing his roots in Adairville 100 years after his great-grandparents, B.H. and Estelle James, re-established theirs. McCormick's father served in the United States Army, and the family moved often. However, the family spent every summer and Christmas vacation with his grandparents and relatives in Adairville and Russellville. He has always considered Adairville his home, even though he didn't reside there until late 2021.

Before dedicating 100 percent of his time to opening the distillery, McCormick was a food scientist working in Research & Development at Kraft Foods / Kraft Heinz in Glenview, Ill., and most recently, AFP – Advance Food Products in New Holland, Penn. He also spent a lot of time in college, receiving an AOS Degree in Culinary Arts and a BS Degree in Food Service Management from Johnson and Wales University, and BSA and M.S. Degrees in Food Science from the University of Georgia.

Renovations of the old Adairville Fire Station were provided by architects Rivetna Architects of Chicago, engineering by S.E. Engineering of Bowling Green, construction was completed by Gunderson Brothers Construction of Adairville; mechanicals and plumbing by Comfort Systems of Bowling Green; electrical by PSK of Russellville, and warehousing provided by PAC Logistics of Russellville.

McCormick would like to give a very special thanks to his late parents, Mike and Lucy McCormick, and his sister and brother-in-law, Cindy and Pat Suiter of Russellville. Their continued love and support proved invaluable as he pursued his passion. He also thanks his many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends for their support throughout his journey in realizing his dreams of starting his own distillery business.

Finally, McCormick wants to remind the reader to always pursue their passion! Sometimes the road to fulfilling your dream is as lengthy as aging fine Bourbon. But if you're persistent and patient, do good work, and start with the end in mind --- dreams can be realized!


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