Coal mines to a distillery: man finds new career at Dueling Barrels Distillery

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PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT)- From the coal mines to a distillery, an Eastern Kentucky native found a new career path at Dueling Barrels Distillery in Pikeville.

In the brewhouse at Dueling Barrels Distillery, Michael Preston makes sure everything runs exactly the way it should.

"I have level sensors on the tanks, proximities, air actuated valves," said Preston.

A former coal miner, In 2014 Preston lost his job and found his life at a crossroad.

"I started mining in 1998 for a company, Branham and Baker, started out on the powder crew, I eventually worked my way to a drill operator," said Preston.

Preston chose to go back to school pursuing a degree in electrical technology at Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

"It's hard, it's very hard, middle 30's deciding to do something like that with a family, it's very hard," said Preston.

In 2016, Preston graduated and moved away to find work.

Recently, Preston found a job with Alltech and today he is back home working as the maintenance supervisor at Dueling Barrels Distillery.

"But thankful for the instructors at Big Sandy, like Charles Vanhoose, Jimmy McClure, made it very easy for me to make that transition and to put my feet on a new path for my future," said Preston.

A future that looks very bright for Preston and Dueling Barrels Distillery.

Anyone interested in visiting the distillery, it is open Monday-Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 12-5.

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