The Commonwealth of Kentucky is synonymous with the bourbon whiskey industry. The location of the Old Taylor Distillery just south of the Kentucky Capital in Frankfort is a reminder of the role Kentucky statesmen and businessmen played in the early years of the whiskey industry. Colonel E.H Taylor, Jr., a Kentucky politician and entrepreneur, oversaw the construction of this magnificent complex in 1887. The complex has seen a recent revitalization as Peristyle LLC has purposed to restore the 125-year-old facility as Castle and Key Distillery. Castle and Key has already begun bourbon production and has product currently in the aging process.
The aging process for ‘straight bourbon’ is at least 2
years. Castle and Key Distillery follows
federal standards for making straight bourbon.
Under current regulations, distilleries can sell unaged whiskey; but,
the whiskey aficionado recognizes the importance of the aging process and the
significance of bourbon making traditions under bottle-in-bond standards. It was Col. Taylor who led the charge for passage
of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 which he believed protected consumers and
manufacturers from inferior “knock-off” whiskey production. Though the major distillers of the time were
seeking to protect their business interests, the Bottled-in-Bond Act was a
landmark in consumer protection legislation and gave validity to some of the
voices in the debates of more inclusive food and beverage legislation such as
the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act.
Though it is unclear what occurred during Prohibition at the Old Taylor Distillery, many distilleries in the area reported theft of bourbon reserves. It is believed that the thefts were actually orchestrated by distillery ownership in an effort to sell liquor on the black market. The accusations against the ownership was never met with legal action, however, other regulatory actions were taken. After several occurrences of theft at the distilleries' warehouses, federal agents were sent to guard the liquor reserves until the end of Prohibition.
legacy of this distillery also lies in the vast production of whiskey that it
has given birth to. Old Taylor is
recorded to be the first distillery to bottle over one million cases of
straight bourbon. Boasting one of the
largest stills in the world and biggest warehouses in the bourbon industry, Old
Taylor came under the control of Jim Beam Company after E.H. Taylor, Jr.’s
death in 1922. Though bourbon stills
ceased operations in the historic facility in 1972, Jim Beam continued to use
the warehouse facilities until 1994.
distillery saw attempts in both the mid-1990’s and 2005 to be revived by entrepreneurs
looking to cash in on the up-turn in the bourbon industry. Both of those efforts failed. On May 8, 2014, the Kentucky Governor’s
office shared a news release announcing Peristyle had been offered state tax
incentives for their plans to restore the distillery and resume bourbon
production after more than 40 years of dormancy.