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Nick Laracuente

Jack Jouett Archaeology Project
Lexington, Kentucky Area
Nick Laracuente is a Kentucky based archaeologist whose "day-job" is a manager at the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office. Outside of his state work, he is the director of the Jack Jouett Archaeology Project, a community archaeology project, involving over 130 volunteers, focused on investigations of early whiskey distilleries in Central Kentucky. The project earned several awards including the Kentucky Historical Society Excellence in Preservation Education 2015 and the Ida Lee Willis Service to Preservation Award 2016. It was also recognized by First Lady, Michelle Obama, as Kentucky's first Preserve America Steward for bringing a volunteer-based focus to sites in danger of disappearing that fall outside the realm of standard preservation safety nets. His archaeological research focuses exclusively on the distilling industry and most of his projects involve the public. The public has returned the favor giving Nick the title, “The Bourbon Archaeologist.” Some of his work will appear in a chapter of the upcoming book Eating the Past: Archaeology of Foodways in the Southeastern United States edited by Tanya Peres Lemons and Aaron Deter-Wolf. In 2016, Nick got a call from Buffalo Trace who had 'found something old' during the renovation of the O.F.C. building on the distillery grounds. Over the next two years, he worked as an independent contractor with Buffalo Trace's engineers and architects to unearth and document the remains of several distilleries that were buried beneath the floor of the present-day buildings. Collaborating with Joanna Hay Productions, he interpreted the archaeological remains and the story they contained as the team crafted the exhibit in what is affectionately known as Bourbon Pompeii. This effort was recognized with the Excellence in Cultural Heritage Tourism Award by Preservation Kentucky in 2017.