UK Happenings

Gaines Center’s Lafayette Seminar Explores 'Mountain Moonshine'

Seminar graphic.
This year's seminar will focus on the cultural, political and technical aspects of the legendary alcohol.

UPDATE: Ashlie Stevens will no longer be attending the Lafayette Seminar. In her place will be Pat Heist, UK alum and co-founder for Wilderness Trail Distillery.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 2, 2022) — When did we begin producing moonshine? How is it regulated? What is the cultural importance of perhaps the most famous mountain alcohol?

The University of Kentucky Gaines Center for the Humanities will explore all this and more in "Mountain Moonshine," its 2022 Lafayette Seminar in Public Issues.

Ashlie Stevens, deputy food editor for Salon magazine, and Jarrad Gollihue, technical director for the James B Beam Institute, will lead the conversation scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in the Marksbury Building Hardymon Theatre. There will also be a virtual option.

Moderated by Gaines Center Associate Director Chelsea Brislin, this year’s seminar will focus on the cultural, political and technical aspects of the legendary alcohol.  

“We are very excited to host this conversation about moonshine in the Gaines Center for the Humanities,” said Melynda Price, director of the Gaines Center. “It connects not just our region’s interest in liquor production, but also the transgressive history of the people. Illicit spirit production, moonshine or bootleg — whatever the terminology for high-proof homemade liquor you use — this conversation will help you learn the context in which it was produced and, by more than will admit, enjoyed.”

Editor and food writer, Stevens’ work has appeared in and on NPR, Eater, Vice and National Geographic. In addition to her writing and editing, Stevens teaches classes about food writing and pitching articles. 

Gollihue researches the generation of volatile compounds that occurs during barrel charring and whiskey maturation. He is also interested in trouble shooting issues that arise during the whiskey making process, such as ethyl carbamate production.

The 2022 Lafayette Seminar is a hybrid event that will take place both in-person and virtually. When registering, you will be prompted to indicate which format you plan to attend. If you choose livestream, you will receive a link closer to the event date. Please note masks are required in all UK buildings, including the Hardymon Theatre.

For more information, call the Gaines Center at 859-257-1537, or email Chelsea Brislin at

Presented annually, the Lafayette Seminar in Public Issues provides an opportunity for Lexington community members, elected officials and faculty and students to discuss issues facing the community. Previous topics have explored the local economy, town and gown relations, community gardening, university cities, public art and the creation of successful downtown spaces.

Founded in 1984 by a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines, the Gaines Center for the Humanities functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on UK's campus. The center is devoted to cultivating an appreciation of the humanities in its students and faculty. The Gaines Center embraces varied paths of knowledge and particularly strives to integrate creative work with traditional academic learning.

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