The Bourbon Brotherhood hired Copper Still Tours to transport us for a super-premium distillery tour to visit Castle & Key and Glenn's Creek. Two new distilleries emerging from the ancient and fabled ruins of bourbon history.
CASTLE & KEY
In 1887, legendary distiller Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. bought a plot of land with a vision for a new kind of distilling experience, he built a destination – characterized by unique architecture, European gardens, and a one-of-a-kind springhouse overlooking the peaceful Glenn's Creek and the steeply wooded hillside that feeds it. In combination with his bourbon production, the Old Taylor Distillery was groundbreaking. Bourbon tourism was born there.
But by 1972, the distillery had been abandoned. It sat in this declining condition for over 40 years until bourbon enthusiasts acquire the land and hired Marianne Barnes from Brown-Forman. She is now Kentucky’s first female Master Distiller since Prohibition.
Inspired by Colonel Taylor’s vision and the property he built, the Castle & Key team is restoring the property to the unique bourbon destination it once was and have begun producing spirits that are as uncompromising in quality as Colonel Taylor’s.
The distillery is in active production while the restoration continues on the amazing facility and grounds, including the sunken gardens, the key-shaped limestone filtered pool and the train station.
After our private tour of Castle & Key, we enjoyed a lunch at the distillery provided by Wallace Station of Versailles.
About a mile down the road from the former Old Taylor Distillery is the former Old Crow Distillery, now named Glenn's Creek.
The famous bourbon originally produced in 1835 by Dr. James Crow using the sour mash process he perfected, has essentially become the foundation for bourbons since then. David Meier and John Kemper wanted to create a new bourbon produced in the style of Dr. Crow; something that Dr. Crow would drink and approve of.
The road ahead to restore and preserve these great buildings is a long one, but one that the team at the distillery is willing to undertake. They reuse and repurpose items salvaged from the old buildings. They have also designed and built nearly all the equipment they use during the cooking of the mash, fermentation, and distillation process, often hobbling together parts salvaged from the old distillery. These guys, with a sort of moonshine MacGyver fix-it attitude, are proud to note that they haven't blown themselves up yet.
The result is a pot distilled, hand-crafted, single barrel, barrel strength bourbon that has no equal on the market. OCD #5 Bourbon is created from a wild yeast collected from one of the original fermentation tanks in the Old Crow Distillery, which gives it a truly historical feel and taste.
After visiting Glenn's Creek, we took a walking tour out back to see the fascinating ruins of the Old Crow Distillery. Who knows what the future holds. Perhaps someday this ghost-town of a distillery will be back in operation.
CASTLE & KEY