Janice Fernheimer

Janice Fernheimer
Zantker Professor and Director of Jewish Studies; Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies
Excited by the new possibilities of graphic narrative and what I have learned about Jewish involvement in Kentucky’s iconic bourbon industry through my work on the Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project, I am working on a co-authored graphic novel and transmedia project, America’s Chosen Spirit (ACS), that continues my work in digital public humanities, builds upon oral history and archival materials, and develops public-facing content aimed at the Kentucky bourbon and tourism industries. Co-created with New York Times-bestselling author JT Waldman, ACS will be published as a serial, web-based, graphic narrative. America’s Chosen Spirit showcases how women, Jews, African Americans, LBGTQs, immigrants, and “other others” have contributed to the Kentucky bourbon industry and its rich heritage. The historical fiction graphic narrative offers readers an alternate history of the bourbon industry’s “old boys club” through the eyes of women. Depicting how women broke free from socially circumscribed roles, the female protagonist highlights Kentucky’s deep Jewish roots and provides a positive role model for women in science and business. The project is based on and designed to generate greater interest in primary, archival materials and oral histories, and in so doing help to rectify bourbon’s and Kentucky’s image. As part of the Certificate in Distillation, Beer, and Winemaking, I also teach WRD 225: Writing Bourbon/Rectifying the Record and WRD 569:Bourbon Oral History.

Alan Fryar

Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences
As a hydrogeologist, my research includes studies of groundwater recharge and water quality in karst (limestone) terrains like those of central Kentucky. Starting in 2008, I became interested in the role of "limestone water" in the development of bourbon. I have published, organized a field trip, and given multiple seminars on this topic. I have also been interviewed by Louisville Public Media and by Amy Stewart for her book "The Drunken Botanist."  

Michael Matthew McGlue

Michael Matthew McGlue

Pioneer Natural Resources Endowed Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences

I am deeply interested in how earth and environmental science intersects with spirit making. To this end, I am developing an introductory science course entitled "On the Rocks - the Geology of Beer, Wine, and Spirit Alcohol" that I hope to offer beginning in AY 2021-2022 to UK undergraduates. A tentative course description is below. "On the Rocks" will examine how regional geological and environmental factors (bedrock composition, topography, hydrology, soils, climate) influence the production of alcohol, wine, and beer. The course addresses intersectional questions, such as: How does limestone influence bourbon making? How does peat form and get used the production of scotch? Why are the major winemaking regions (California, France, Argentina) located where they are? How are minerals are used to make an IPA taste more “hoppy”? Special emphasis will be given to developing a sense of place in Kentucky and the influence of the the bluegrass environment on the bourbon industry, local vineyards, and craft beermaking.


Arnold Stromberg

Arnold Stromberg

Professor, Statistics

My expertise is in data analytics and statistical modeling, especially the identification of combinations of variables (interactions) impacting a response variable. Recently, we looked at filtration variables impacting turbidity (clarity) of spirits.


Junfeng Zhu

Geologist V, Kentucky Geological Survey
Making distilled spirits needs plenty of water with good quality. I am a hydrogeologist and my research interests include understanding how water moves near surface and in the subsurface, how water chemistry changes in response to various physical and chemical processes, and how water quality is affected by natural and anthropogenic factors. My expertise can help secure and protect water sources for distilleries.