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A Hardin County man combined his appreciation for one of Kentucky’s signature products with 30 years of photography experience. The result is a book called “The Kentucky Bourbon Experience.”
“I’ve been drinking bourbon for years and had an interest in the bourbon industry,” Leon Howlett said.
The Glendale resident began work on the book about two and a half years ago. It includes images from eight distilleries around Kentucky and a sense of the Bluegrass state.
“It’s about 85 percent bourbon and 15 percent Kentucky,” he said.
“The Kentucky Bourbon Experience” was published at the end of March by Acclaim Press.
Distilleries featured in the book are Barton’s 1792, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.
The logistics involved in scheduling photo shoots with eight different locations proved the most difficult aspect, Howlett said.
“The photography was the easiest part,” he said.
The project allowed Howlett to put to use a digital camera he picked up before beginning the endeavor. Prior to acquiring that camera, he said, he didn’t have control over his color work.
Digital photography allowed Howlett to have control to create the type of photos he wanted.
“I want to entertain with the photos,” he said.
In fact, Howlett sees his role differently than many in the field.
“I don’t call myself an artist,” he said. “I’m a photographer.”
During his visits to the distilleries, Howlett found the aroma brought back pleasant memories of being on the farm when he was growing up.
The completed project made Howlett realize how far the industry had come, he said. Past perceptions of bourbon and the industry were not as flattering as they are these days, he said.
Howlett wanted to reflect that.
“My goal was not to have a bad photograph in the book,” he said. “The worst photograph in the book is the one of me.”
Five of the eight distilleries already carry the book in their gift shops, Howlett said. The book also is available in Howlett’s store, True Kentucky, in Glendale.
Additionally “The Kentucky Bourbon Experience” can be found at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Elizabethtown and at www.amazon.com.
Howlett feels the book will be of interest to those who enjoy photography and those who are interested in the bourbon industry, among others.
“It appeals to different folks for different reasons,” Howlett said.
Already, Howlett has received positive feedback from the bourbon industry, he said.
“So far the response has been that they like the images,” Howlett said.
In fact, he received high praise from Bill Samuels, the president of Maker’s Mark, who wrote him and called the book a “masterpiece.”
Howlett called the comment the best compliment he has had so far.
“I wanted to represent the industry well and I wanted to represent Kentucky well,” Howlett said. “I hope I’ve accomplished that.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.
FOR MORE: Leon Howlett hosts a booksigning 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at True Kentucky, 452 E. Main St., Glendale, and noon May 12 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 801 S. Hurstbourne Parkway, Louisville. To find out more about Leon Howlett and his book “The Kentucky Bourbon Experience,” visit www.leonhowlett.com.