Bourbon distilleries pride themselves not only on filling their bottles with quality spirits, but on designing the bottles so that they distinguish themselves from other brands. Consider the rustic-inspired Bulleit bottle, the winged elegance of Angel’s Envy, the horse and rider atop the round Blanton’s, and the majestic Willett pot still.
No doubt the bottles are more valuable full than empty, but what do we do with them when we do enjoy the last of their contents? Nelson County, Kentucky artist Donna Cheek doesn’t throw them away – in fact, she ventures around the state of Kentucky every week, looking for bottles that might otherwise be on their way to landfills, and transforms them into Kentucky Bourbon Recipe© oil lamps.
The Bourbon Guys witnessed Donna’s artistry first-hand during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in September. We walked into a Bardstown store called At Mary’s (http://www.atmarys.com/) with our wives, who oooooed and aaahhhed over Donna’s creations. In addition to antiques and unique gift items, At Mary’s sells the work of local artists like Donna Cheek.
Donna’s art is far more than home décor. She and her family now own and operate a farm that dates back to the 1830s. They still grow many of the ingredients in bourbon, including corn, rye, wheat, and barley. Donna recycles empty bottles and fills them with these home-grown products and candle oil. She includes a wick that can be burned like a candle, and you can simply refill the bottle when the oil runs low, making them functional as well as beautiful. She also sometimes displays particularly breathtaking bottles on lighted stands. (Just imagine that Blanton’s bourbon bottle!) Each creation has a barrel sliver lazered with Donna’s trademark Kentucky Bourbon Recipe© hanging around the neck of the bottle.
The Bourbon Guys with Donna Cheek of Kentucky Bourbon Recipe©