Meet The B-Line®: Pensive Distilling Co.

A modern distillery (and restaurant) that embraces Kentucky’s rich history.

Outside image of Pensive Distilling Co. building with tables and chairs out front.

We are back friends with this edition of our Meet The B-Line® series featuring Pensive Distilling Co. + Kitchen, one of the newest members of The B-Line. Dot (transplant and Cincinnati Reds enthusiast) and I (living in a state of please let Joe Burrow stay healthy) headed to Pensive, located in Newport, Ky., for their “Mid-Week Special” Distillery Tour and Speakeasy Tasting. Here is an inside look at our experience.

Pensive History

The tour began the moment we walked in. This may or may not be because we literally got there right on time. Gage, our tour guide extraordinaire, greeted us and the cutest, newly retired couple in from New Mexico for a conference. After introductions, Gage led us on a tour that began with the telling of how Pensive came to be.

A man standing next to the metal and brass still and describing the distilling process.

Named in honor of a Kentucky thoroughbred racehorse that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1944, Pensive opened its doors in 2021 in a historic building on Monmouth Street. Inside, just to the right is their 100 gallon still. Gage discussed their distilling process and then led us to their onsite production facility at the back of the building. Pensive is a new, but growing operation. You won’t find a sprawling estate or rickhouse on the premises. But Pensive has something unique that other distilleries don’t have. Their very own hidden speakeasy.

Image of the upstairs hidden speakeasy with a couple of plush couches, elegant chairs and a small bar with surrounding bar stools.

Speakeasies (hidden bars or lounges) were common in Newport, Kentucky during Prohibition (1920-1933). Without giving away too much juicy detail from the tour, Gage dives into the history of Newport during Prohibition and how their building was involved.

Inside shot of the bar top that goes the length of the building just about with chairs pulled up.

The décor at Pensive is modern and intimate with subtle nods to both Newport’s infamous sin city history and Kentucky horse racing. The kitchen can be seen from the bar and offers award winning American cuisine. Something cool about their menu—they name each item after a racehorse. Come in and try the American Pharoah, named by CityBeat Magazine as the “Most over-the-Top Burger” in 2022. Gage discussed how Chef Brian Miller crafts their menu around their single barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Vodka, Gin and Apple Pie Moonshine. While Dot and I did not get a chance to sample the menu, we’ve heard nothing but good things.

Tasting

The tour wraps up with a sampling of four products in the speakeasy’s tasting room, including their vodka, a 5-Year, 80 Proof Single Barrel Bourbon, a 9-Year, 111 Proof, Single Barrel Bourbon and their Apple Pie Moonshine. I personally liked the moonshine the best. If it’s sweet, it’s for me. Dot’s favorite was the 9-year Single Barrel Bourbon.

Looking at the glass doors into the room that holds the Still.

Overall, Dot and I had a fun and educational afternoon at Pensive Distilling Co. What I like most about The B-Line is that every stop is different. Their history, location, décor, vibe and products. No two stops are the same. You can truly see their individuality and what makes each of them great. We highly recommend you stop in at Pensive, have a cocktail, share a bite to eat or take a great tour and learn about what’s coming next. Support for local businesses is so pivotal to our eclectic and thriving communities in Northern Kentucky.

Corks that have been drawn and written on, on and around a wood cut out of the State of Kentucky.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and encourage you to download our B-Line digital guide or stop by one of the many stops on the B-Line for an official guide booklet and get started. For those that check in at 2 restaurants, 2 bars and 2 distilleries, we will send you a free, bourbon swag gift of your choosing! Who doesn’t like free stuff? Interested in bourbon centric events? Keep an eye on our calendar, updated daily with great events happening all month long. As always friends, until next time, go forth and explore our great region, one sip and bite at a time!