The Personalities Behind the Bourbon

The Personalities Behind the Bourbon

Why do two Cirque du Soleil set designers open a distillery—and how do they decorate it?

What happens when a PhD in Business Psychology buys Kentucky’s oldest winery and then starts making bourbon?

These are two of the stories behind the distilleries on our Tour With Us KY trail experiences.

Read on to meet some interesting people who just happen to make our favorite spirit.

Back Stage in Ludlow, KY

Best friends Carus Waggoner and Rick Couch journeyed west as young men, winding up in Las Vegas working for Cirque du Soleil. While creating stunning visual sets and backdrops for acrobatic performers, they experimented with distilling as a hobby. As they learned more about the process, they decided to go big…and go home.

They returned to Kentucky and opened Second Sight Spirits, a distillery and lounge with a fortune telling theme. The centerpiece is the Zoltar-like still, which wears a copper turban and sits on an ornate stage.

In 2019, they expanded their lounge and have filled it with interactive elements, some of which can help you divine your future. “We have so much fun with it,” says Rick.

Carus explains that their bar is “the luckiest in the world,” because the top is covered in hundreds of lucky coins displayed under a protective layer of resin. They also have basketball-sized Magic 8 balls, a fortune-telling fish named Fortuna and a vending machine that decides what to dispense. The list of clever elements goes on and on, because the ever-creative owners keep adding to it.

The friendly welcome and quirky surroundings you’ll enjoy reflect Rick and Carus’s personalities. If you’re interested in sampling their bourbon, rum, hazelnut liqueur or moonshine, a visit to Second Sight Spirits may be in your future.

Living History in Augusta, KY

Dinah Bird, the owner of Baker-Bird Winery and Distillery, has many interests. She started in Chemistry, got a master’s in Zoology, switched gears to study Business Psychology and then moved to Napa to study Viticulture. Then, nearly 20 years ago, she and her husband bought what is known as the most historic spirits site in America.

Built in 1850, their wine cellar is the largest and oldest in America, and the only one to survive a Civil War battle. Among these and many other claims to fame are their internationally acclaimed wines that are aged in bourbon barrels, made from their own oak trees.

In addition to wine, there is a strong history of making bourbon at this site. John Baker, whose grandson built the winery, settled in Augusta in 1797, bringing his bourbon recipes and processes from Pennsylvania. The bourbons distilled from these recipes are winning awards today, including taking home a gold medal.

Dinah is thrilled to be part of such rich history. She loves offering her hospitality to the visitors who explore the old buildings and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere and delicious beverages. Dinah especially relishes the challenge of creating food and beverage pairings that complement each other and bring out the unique characteristics of each.

Baker-Bird’s large pressing room, patios and bar provide ample gathering space for sipping, nibbling and relaxing. Dinah will most likely be there to tell you interesting stories about the property and encourage you to soak in all the history, bucolic views and charm.