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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Old Taylor Distillery...

    I always give credit, to my source but this article has little information (cut away) about the newspaper it came from. I will assume the Lexington Herald? The photographer was Joseph Rey Au

    Old Taylor Distillery comming alive with renovation plans.

    VERSAILLES--In a remote Woodford County valley, adjacent to a spring, whiskey is in the air.

    The Old Tayor Distillery property is being renovated into an arts and crafts mall, a spring water operation and a bourbon distillery.

    When you think of an old distillery you just don't quite think of a place like this, said Cecil Withrow, a partner in Stone Castle Properties inc. which is remodeling the 1.5 million square feet of building speace on McCrakern Pike in Versailles.

    The site got its name from the stone castle that sits at the front of the property. Built in 1887 of Tyrone limestone, the structure was used by National Distilleries for actual distillery operations from the early 1930's until 1972. Withrow worked for National Distilleries for 10 years.

    In 1986, the company was bought by Jim Beam Distilleries which stored and aged bourbon whiskey there until 1994, when the space was no longer needed. The property was put up for sale, and Withrow became interested.

    I just hated to see what was happening to it, he said. It was just excess baggage to them.

    So Withrow and business partner Robert Simms bought the property for $400,000.

    Withrow said the site is ideal for aging bourbon. Those houses age whiskey really well because of good air circulation and help the bourbon breathe, he said, pointing to two warehouses.

    Stone Castle Properties is planning an arts and crafts mall that will open Feb. 1 in the former bottling house. Also, spring water will be sold from the adjacent Bird's Eye Limestone Spring. And whiskey distilling will resume in the castle in the next two years.

    The whiskey will be aged in white oak barrels for four years, and it will be bottled one barrel at at time and hand-labeled with proof numbers. Under no circumstances, Withrow said, will barrels of bourbon be mixed.

    Stone Castle is trying to cash in on part of the super-premium bourbon market--brands costing $20 or more for a 750-milliliter bottle. Although sales of distilled spirits in general have declined about 20 percent in the last decade, sales of these higher priced brands have increased, according to the Distilled Sprits Council of the United States.

    Stone Castle plans to produce 5,000 cases a year, Withrow said, we'll be happy. Real Happy.

    Stone Castle is not the first company to renovate a dormant distillery in Woodford Conty. Louisville based Brown-Forman Corp. is putting the finishing touches on its two year, $6.5 million renovation of the Labrot & Graham Distllery, which has been idle almost 35 years. It is scheduled for completion this summer.

    Old Taylor is one of the many distilleries that my family of Beams worked at. I wonder what happened?...

    Bettye Jo
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  2. #2
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    I live about a mile from Old Taylor and Old Crow. Cecil Withrow died a few years ago. The only thing that goes on at Taylor is that Jim Beam uses one of the warehouses. Other than that its just a decaying old distillery. From what I know they never distilled or aged any bourbon. They did have a little trinket place in one of the buildings for a small time, but that was probably 5-10 years ago. If you all have never drove by it, you should.

    The main building doesn't look like that anymore either. It has vines growing all over it, the distillery is really dreary and almost eriee.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    I saw some time back a Rest in Peace to Cecil Withrow on the message board that is on the other side of SB.com. So is it going to happen or did the dream die with Cecil?
    In Bluegrass Belles and Bourbon there is a splendid picture of the inside of the springhouse. I'd buy a gallon of their water for that alone.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    The Old Taylor springhouse as it appeared in 1992, from "Made and Bottled in Kentucky."
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  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    Sounds to me by BSS's description, the dream died. That's sad. That was alot of money to spend for a little gift shop. My grandfather, Harry Beam worked there for awhile.

    Nearly the same thing happened with Michters in PA. At one time it was the oldest distillery in the United States. Big amounts were spent to make a come-back, but the dream seemed to die before it got off the ground.

    Uncle Everett, retired from Michters (40+ years). The Pot Still that Uncle Everett developed for Michters, still survives. John Ed Beam, one of the new owner's of the still, took a lot of folks over to see it during the Bourbon Festival.

    Bettye Jo

  6. #6
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    hey I've talked to Mike, Cecil's son, and even though 1 warehouse has fallen down and the other brick warehouse may follow the other one soon since it has lost all its gutters-you can have Robert's 75% share of ownership for a pittance- $750,000. But, I guess you could still bottle your own water.

  7. #7
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    As in Robert who? I was wondering who the other guy was. Im surprised Mike and his mom(i think she use to be a real estate agent) doesn't try to sell their 25%. They could do a ton with 250K. How did you end up talking to Mike anyways? I know his name and # are on the no trespassing signs all around the place.

    They have a few pallets stacked full of bricks right beside the road from the fallen warehouse. I've always thought it would be sorta cool to build a shed/barn with them and use the windows and shudders that are laying in the rubble.

    That place is getting in really bad shape, when it warms up a little I'll go take some pics of Old Taylor and Crow then post them on here.

  8. #8
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    They have a few pallets stacked full of bricks right beside the road from the fallen warehouse. I've always thought it would be sorta cool to build a shed/barn with them and use the windows and shudders that are laying in the rubble.
    Shed or barn? I think it would be poetic justice to build a bar with the stones from a distillery warehouse.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    That place is getting in really bad shape.

    What a shame. When I was there in 91-92 it was amazing how it had been left. Taylor had a visitor's center with exhibits about the history and the bourbon-making process. Everything was still there, albiet in a bad state of disrepair. They had a "hall of fame" saluting various industry leaders. All of it was just sitting there, gathering dust and worse.

    Taylor essentially closed down in 1972. Crow operated until 1987. Apparently, all Jim Beam did was strip out all the copper, which has a resale value, and continue to use whatever warehouses were still functional. Everything else they just let go to pot, and not in a good way.

    At that time (1991-92) there were still a few National Distillers folks on the payroll and they were just sick about the fact that Beam didn't care a lick about any of the heritage in those facilities, Old Grand-Dad in Frankfort included.

  10. #10
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    Re: Old Taylor Distillery...

    Chuck,
    Beam didn't care a lick about any of the heritage in those facilities, Old Grand-Dad in Frankfort included.

    This reminds me of the way of the way Pappy Van Winkle's 1849 Room (a room devoted to documenting the company's history) was treated after Stizel Weller was sold.
    It all hit the dumpster.
    Sally Van Winkle talks about it in her book. it's sad that the corporate mindset, with all the brain power at it's disposal, can be so damn dumb. I grew up smelling Stizel Weller.
    Bj

 

 

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