By Leslie Bueno
As a high school senior who has always loved the application of chemistry and math, Allison Kerns knew chemical engineering was the perfect path for her as she entered the University of Kentucky. Allison graduated this past May with a B.S. in chemical engineering and recently completed her internship with Mine Hill Distillery located in Connecticut.
Through her time at Mine Hill Distillery, Allison was able to learn how to examine grain quality, mashing, fermenting, distilling, proofing and bottling. She has also been able to create her own gins and formulate her own bourbon mash bills.
“I’ve been hands-on with every step of the process of creating high-quality spirits, including, vodka, gin, bourbon and rye whiskey.”
Allison describes the experience as “incomparable” because she gained so much knowledge and so many skills.
“The head distiller, Charisse Woods, was amazing to work with. She has so much knowledge to offer with her vast experience in distilling at Crown Royal, Bulleit and another craft location. Working with another woman distiller is super inspiring.”
Thanks to the combination of Allison’s engineering classes and the Distillation, Wine and Brewing program. she was able to receive a rounded educational experience.
“It’s always awesome to see what you’ve learned in the classroom come to life, and I was able to do just that and apply my knowledge that I gained from my classes at UK during my internship.”
Prior to her internship at Mine Hill Distillery, Allison had been able to participate in two other process engineering internships. They were in manufacturing settings, which she recalls as a “great experience” because she was able to be around large machinery and equipment while learning about processes and industry principles.
“With all of my internship experience combined, I think it’s helped round me and give me good exposure for a solid foundation that I can build upon throughout my career.”
While at UK, Allison was a member of student organizations like the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and DanceBlue. She is also a Delta Delta Delta alumna.
Now, Allison is a supervisor at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. She plans to get her master's degree at some point in her journey as she pursues her goal of becoming a head distiller.
“I have a passion and interest for many things, so those goals very well could change, but I really see myself in the spirits industry in the future.”