How a local spirits store provides white-glove service topped with Kentucky heritage and rare vintage finds
By Emily Renco
Photos by Kathryn Harrington and Victor Sizemore
As the home of bourbon country, Kentucky welcomes tourists from around the world to visit the wide array of bourbon distilleries and local stores to become more familiar with our native spirit. After a change in the landscape related to the spirits industry, bourbon and spirits experts could open more local stores with niche offerings after several years of collecting. With this change, locals and tourists alike can visit stores like Justins’ House of Bourbon, a local store that carries contemporary and vintage bourbon and anything in between.
It was a mutual love of bourbon between Justin Sloan and Justin Thompson that led to their ventures in the industry and eventually the opening of Justins’ House of Bourbon. Thompson got his start in 2008 when he, his brother and several fraternity brothers created The Bourbon Review, a quarterly lifestyle magazine and guide to bourbon country. Then in 2015, Thompson opened a bourbon bar in downtown Lexington called Belle’s Cocktail House. Meanwhile, Sloan was creating his own collection of vintage and rare bourbons and curating for several private clients.
Some of Sloan’s personal collection includes favorites from Stitzel-Weller, Pappy Van Winkle and bottles of 1933 Colonel E.H. Taylor from Castle & Key Distillery. Sloan’s love of collecting, background in e-commerce and tech, and extensive vintage bourbon knowledge are some of the many reasons he teamed up with Thompson and he’s glad he did. “I felt that I was pretty versed in the industry and people kept asking me for advice and consulting. I quickly realized that it was a niche that I could fill in my home state.”
After 10 years and many quarterlies, cocktails and bourbon finds later, both Sloan and Thompson were ready to take on a new project. Thanks to the changing landscape related to whiskey and the increased interest and popularity of the spirit, they decided it was time to create something that no one else was doing.
In February 2018, they opened Justins’ House of Bourbon, a one-stop shop for any of your bourbon or spirits needs with an upscale level of service and quality of products. Justins’ offers a wide variety of spirits, from vintage to contemporary, in the hopes of satisfying its customer’s needs and providing a service that can’t be found anywhere else. Currently, there are locations both in Lexington and Louisville.
For customers, when they walk in, they should expect top-of-the-notch service. “We take pride in our white-glove service. The stores are set up so that when you walk in, you will be asked by someone about how we can help and if there’s anything you have questions about,” said Sloan. “It can be intimidating to see all of the bottles, vintage and new, and our experiential retail. We try to give customers an experience that they’re not going to get at any other package store. No matter if you spend $17 or $17,000, you’re going to be treated equally.”
Customers can explore a wide variety of bottles throughout the stores and are even able to taste them before purchasing. Both Sloan and Thompson hope that, when customers leave the store, they will continue to want to come back and to try new things each time.
As for the store’s future, Sloan hopes to “continue to bring our stores back to the status they were pre-pandemic, and to reach out to new customers to give them the best experience possible.”
Justins’ House of Bourbon
101 W Market St.
Louisville, KY 40202