SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — When Jeptha Creed Distillery opened its doors in 2016, it became the first distillery in Shelby County since before prohibition.
The distillery sits prominently on a spacious 64-acre piece of land off Interstate-64. Dubbed a “passion project” for its ownership, the Nethery family has been farming in Shelby County for five generations and grows many of the ingredients used in their spirits on their family farm.
Family and tradition are prominent values at Jeptha Creed—but its ownership makes this distillery so unique. Jeptha Creed is owned and operated by mother-daughter duo, Joyce and Autumn Nethery. They are the only mother-daughter distillery ownership team in Kentucky.
“I grew up on a family farm, so it’s not really that much different than working on a family farm,” Autumn said of working with her mother. “So, I enjoy it. I know it’s not for everybody, but my mother, my father, my brother—the whole family (works at Jeptha Creed)."
Joyce, who studied chemical engineering at the University of Louisville’s Speed Scientific School, worked for 15 years as a process engineer in industrial scale distillation before teaching high school chemistry and physics. It was her family’s dream of opening a distillery that ultimately reawakened her passion for the distillation process. She now makes bourbon, vodka, moonshine and brandy as Jeptha Creed’s master distiller. Autumn, who jokes that she “did not inherit the chemical engineering knowledge” from her mother, gets their product out the door as the distillery’s marketing director. She’s one of the youngest distillery owners in the business.
“We love, you know, the attention that we get being the only mother-daughter distillery owner team in Kentucky, but I think it’s even bigger and broader than that,” Joyce said of the growing interest in distillation and spirits among women.
Although the distilling industry is sometimes called a “boy’s club”, you wouldn’t know that looking around Jeptha Creed. The women on the manufacturing floor outnumbered the men on a Wednesday morning bottling line. The distillery’s popular Apple Pie Moonshine was carefully poured into glass jars before being passed down an assembly line where each jar was wiped down, covered, labeled, sealed and packaged for shipment and sale.
“I think at one time [the distilling industry] was a boys club, but now I think it’s becoming a girls club too,” said Joyce. “There’s a Bourbon Women’s Club—I just love how women are embracing the bourbon and the other distilled spirits and making them their own. It’s a great thing for all of us.”
Joyce encourages women and girls to follow their passions, even if their interests lead them into a traditionally male-dominated field, like the distilling industry.
“Being one of the very few girls in the room has been a common theme for me,” said Joyce. “And I’ll just encourage girls to do it. Don’t let being the only girl stop them. It’s all worthwhile.”
Joyce went from being the only girl in the room, to being master distiller of Jeptha Creed and half of the mother-daughter team that owns it. The distillery is an extension of the Nethery’s home, and much like the workers, everyone feels like family here.