View Full Version : Old Prentice Distillery

10-13-1999, 14:45
A question was asked recently about the Old Prentice Distillery. Today, while looking through some old papers, I found the following. I don't know the source--it is a single, typewritten sheet of paper--but I think it was given to me by Ova Haney, then master distiller at Four Roses in Lawrenceburg, which is owned by Seagrams.

- chuck


Old Prentice was one of the original distilleries in Anderson County, Kentucky. It was known as "Old Joe" Distillery and was started on Gilbert's Creek in 1818 by "Old Joe" Payton, an early settler in Kentucky. Ownership passed to the Hawkins family in 1840 then to Medley S. Bond in 1857, to T. B. Ripy who sold it to Captain Wiley Searcy and then again it was owned by the Hawkins family. The Hawkins family, Gratz B. and Hurd Hawkins, manufactured the "Old Joe" and "Old Prentice" brands until Prohibition in 1917.

The present plant was built in 1910 and was operated until Prohibition. It was closed at that time and much of the equipment was sold. After Prohibition, the plant was refurbished and started production in 1933 as Old Prentice Distillery. Production at that time was 400 bushels per day.

The plant was purchased by National Distillers Products Corporation in 1941 then sold to Charles A. Grosscurth in 1944. It was sold to Calvert Distilling Co. in 1946. Present capacity of the plant is 2400 bushels per day. The major brand produced today is Four Roses bourbon. It is sold only in Europe and cannot be acquired here in the United States.

10-13-1999, 20:01
Thanks for the info, Chuck. That place has been through some interesting hands. It's a real nice-looking distillery, once you get used to the yellow.

Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

10-14-1999, 10:46
My favorite feature of the plant is its mash tub. Since each grain cooks best at a different temperature, the distiller starts with corn, which cooks at the highest temperature, then lowers the temperature before adding the rye, then lowers it again before adding the malt. For efficiency, this is forced in some way. They don't just wait for the temperature to drop naturally. The most common design is to put pipes inside the tub, through which cold water is pumped until the desired temperature is reached. At Four Roses, they release water onto the outside of the hot metal tub, which makes a very dramatic noise as the cold water hits the hot metal. The water is collected at a drain near the bottom. I don't know if this method has any practical benefit--I haven't seen it anywhere else--but it sure does startle a visitor, especially one standing right next to it, to the seemingly unending amusement of the distillery staff.

- chuck