Bourbon and Distilleries

This distillery was a partnership erected a distillery in 1868, near Athens.  In 1876, Poindexter & Pettit assumed operations.  This partnership consisted of Richard Poindexter and B. F. Pettit.  Operations were discontinued shortly afterwards.[i]

 

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1832 –

Distiller

Dwight A. Aiken was born in Oswego, New York, during 1832 and moved with his parents to Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1848.  From 1852 to 1861, he was a bookkeeper with a grocery store in Detroit.  At the start of the Civil War, he became a captain in the Commissary Department of the Federal army and was stationed at Camp Nelson, Jessamine County, Kentucky, from...

Turner, Clay & Company (1865 – 1871)

Wm. Tarr & Company (1871 – 1899)

Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Company (1899 – 1902, 1908 – 1923)

Stoll & Company (1902 – 1908)

In 1865, Turner, Clay & Company established the Ashland Distillery on Manchester Street (Old Frankfort Pike at Cox Street, at the city limits...

A distillery opened in 1868 in the Dog Fennel Precinct, opposite Roger’s Mill.  The distillery operated until the early 1880s.[i]

 

[i] Perrin, page 212.

 

18__ - 1917

Turfman and Distillery Investor

Colonel William S. Barnes was a noted breeder of thoroughbred horses.  In 1881, he purchased half interest, with Colonel James E. Pepper, in the Melbourne Stud Farm.  Melbourne was located on Georgetown Pike, one mile from the city limits on the interurban tracks.  In 1891, Barnes acquired sole ownership of the farm.  In the late...

The brand Bell of Lexington was registered in 1906 to Woodford Distilling Co. of Chicago, Illinois.  The Woodford Distilling Company was owned by S. J. Greenbaum and operated the Midway Distillery Midway, Woodford County, Kentucky.  After a fire in 1908, the company relocated its bottling operations to the Ashland plant in Lexington.

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Bourbon (bou’r’bon) – 1. “The Whiskey That Made Kentucky Famous” and 2. a whiskey distilled primarily from corn and aged in charred oak barrels.

Distilling Process

Bourbon whiskey...

This firm built a distillery and mill around 1873 on Combs Ferry Pike.  The partnership operated for five years.[i]

 

[i] Perrin, page 212.

 

1839 -       

Distiller

Henry C. Clay, known as H. C. Clay, was born in 1839, a nephew of the Henry Clay (Kentucky Senator and Statesman).  He was also related the Grimes family of Grimes Mill (and later married one of the Grimes’ cousins).  In 1880, he became one of the principals in the distilling partnership of Stoll, Clay & Company (that built the Commonwealth Distillery).  During 1885, the...

Stoll, Clay & Company (1880 – 1885)

Commonwealth Distilling Company (1885 – 1899)

Kentucky Distilleries and Warehouse Company (1899 – 1915)

In 1880, Stoll, Clay & Company converted the old cotton mill[1] in Sandersville into a whiskey...

Ed. Murphy & Company, Distillers, operated a whiskey brokerage at Cheapside and Mill Street for Belle of Anderson County Whiskey during the 1880s.  Edward Murphy purchased the Belle of Anderson County Distillery in Lawrenceburg in 1883.  He operated the plant until 1912, when it closed.[i]  During the 1890s,...

The distillery operated by J. S. Foley was located adjacent to his residence at South Elkhorn, on the Lexington, Harrodsburg & Perryville Turnpike.[i]

 

[i] 1877 Atlas of Fayette County, Kentucky....

In 1876, the firm of Foushee & Brothers was founded as a wholesale liquor dealer.  The firm consisted of Charles W. Foushee, Jr. and E. F. Foushee, his brother.  The Foushees were the sons of Charles W. Foushee, Sr. (Lexington’s Mayor from 1888 to 1892).  Their office was located at 25 West Short Street.  By the mid 1880s, the firm had become Foushee, Bond & Company, operating at 57 East Short Street. ...

Frank Hudson & Company operated from around 1916 to 1919 from 122 West Main Street.  The company produced Hudson Whiskey.  They advertised “Wholesale and Mail Order Liquor, Tobacco, Cigar and Pipes.”  He succeeded The Gutzeit Company.[i]

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During the 1850s, Charles W. Grimes constructed a distillery on Boone Creek, at Grimes Mill Road.  The distillery was located upstream from his mill.  He distilled Old Grimes Copper Whiskey.  After the Civil War, he rebuilt the distillery and constructed a bonded warehouse. [i]   His investment was valued at $8,...

In 1879 Robert F. Johnson built a distillery on his farm on Russell Cave Pike, three miles from Lexington.  In 1882, H. D. Owings leased the plant and began producing the H. D. Owings brand of “Old Fashioned Hand-Made Sour Mash Fire Copper Whiskey.”

He produced roughly eight hundred barrels annually, valued at $20,000.  He employed five workers, at an average weekly salary of $5.  The distillery was...

Hagan Distillery was an operating name for Andrew J. Hagan, a saloonkeeper and liquor dealer.  He sold Hagan Whiskey.  He operated around 1902 from 131 North Broadway.[i]

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1806 – 1888

Distiller and Banker

Robert B. Hamilton was born on October 5, 1806.  From 1881 to 1888, he was a partner in the whiskey and liquor brokerage firm of Stoll, Hamilton & Company (with Richard P. Stoll).  In 1872, Hamilton became President of the Lexington City National Bank and led the bank through the Panic of 1873.  He resigned in October 1883 due to ill health and died on August 6,...

The partnership of Headley & Farra operated the Henry Clay Distillery (RD #5) from 1858 to 1873.  The partnership consisted of John A. Headley and James A. Farra.

The partners were involved with the establishing in 1870 of the private bank of Headley, Anderson & Company.  Headley and Farra, along with Hamilton A. Headley and Richard T. Anderson founded the bank.  In January 1870, the firm acquired...

Headley & Farra (1869 – 1872)

Jas. E. Pepper & Co. (1879 – 1907)

James E. Pepper Distilling Company (1907 – 1933)

Schenley Products (1933 – 1976)

The Henry Clay Distillery was built in 1869 by the partnership of Headley & Farra.  This partnership consisted of John A. Headley and James A. Farra....

In 1882 I. H. Davidson operated a small distillery one mile north of Athens, Kentucky.  The distillery and warehouse were of frame construction.  Apparently, he operated until the early 1890s.

J. A. Lail & Company operated from 1884 to 1890 as a broker of Ashland and Wm. Tarr whiskey from the Ashland Distillery.  The partnership consisted of Jeptha A. Lail and Joseph M. Kimbrough.  Kimbrough was the manager of the Ashland Distillery and was Thomas J. Megibben’s son-in-law.

Their offices were located at 74 East Main Street.  They also manufactured the “New Blue Stocking Cigars.”  After...

J. H. Traynor & Company operated a wholesale whiskey brokerage from around 1911 to Prohibition, operating from 105 North Broadway.  This company produced Belle of Fayette Whiskey, White Fox Whiskey and High Tide Bourbon Whiskey.  John H. Traynor owned the company.[i]

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James O. Pettit constructed a mill on Boone’s Creek around 1850 and operated a distillery adjacent to the mill.  Purchased by Stephen D. Reed in 1877, the distillery operated until at least 1883.[i]

 

[i]...

The John Robb Distillery was located next to his residence at Waveland.  He operated from 1877 to at least 1883.  In the 1890s, Headley & Peck at the Woodland Distillery produced John Robb Whiskey.[i]

 

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1851 – 1890

Distillery Manager

Joe Kimbrough was born in Harrison County, Kentucky, on June 10, 1851.  Around 1870 he became a bookkeeper for the firm of Cussen, Megibben & Kimbrough, dry good merchant of Cynthiana, Kentucky.  His father was a partner in the firm.  In 1876, he was married to Mattie Megibben, daughter of Thomas J. Megibben.

In January 1879 he came to Lexington to manage...

John D. Hinde (1869 – 1870)

D. A. Aiken (1874 – 1882)

William Tarr & Company (1892 – 1902)

The Lexington Distillery was established in 1869 by John D. Hinde.   The distillery was located on two acres on Manchester Street (Old Frankfort Pike), at the Elizabethtown, Lexington & Big Sandy Railroad (later Cincinnati Southern).   The site was adjacent to the Ashland Distillery.  He...

Brand Name Distillery Acme Stoll, Vannatta & Company Aiken See D. A. Aiken Ancient Age Bourbon Jas. E. Pepper & Co. Ashland Turner, Clay & Company / WM Tarr & Company / Stoll & Company Bell of Lexington Woodford Distilling Co. of Chicago, IL Belle of Anderson County Ed. Murphy & Co / D. H. Foursee & Company Belle of Fayette J. H. Traynor & Company Belle of Lexington Henry Freiberg of...

1831 - 1890

Distiller and Turfman.

Thomas J. Megibben was born in Clermont County, Neville, Ohio, and at an early age relocated to Cynthiana, Harrison County, Kentucky.  He was the largest landowner in the county, with twenty eight hundred acres of land.  He built “Monticello,” a mansion overlooking the Licking River in Cynthiana, with three floors and twenty-seven rooms.  He raised...

1836 - 1909

Banker & Dry Goods Merchant.

Thomas D. Mitchell was born around 1836 in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  He settled in Lexington during 1865 (at the end of the Civil War) to become the first Cashier of the First National Bank of Lexington.  He held that position from 1865 to 1887.  He served as a director of the bank from 1876 to 1906.  He was also a director of the Security Trust &...

Overly & Bond Company was a partnership operated by Charles H. Overly and John B. Bond in the 1890s as a wholesale liquor dealer at 123 East Main Street.  The brand Nancy Hanks was registered with the US Patent Office around 1893 by John Bond of Lexington, Kentucky....

1850 – 1906

Master Distiller and Turfman.

Colonel James Edward Pepper, Master Distiller, was a bigger-than-life, flamboyant promoter, who was very proud of his distilling heritage – the third generation to produce Old Pepper whiskey.  He claimed the oldest distillery – founded in 1780 – in the United States, the largest distillery in the world and the “best” whiskey in the United States.

He...

Prohibition – once called the GREAT EXPERIMENT – intended to free society of the evils of drinking.  However, it became quickly evident that society was uninterested and after a little over a decade, the experiment failed.  Later, Hollywood created a glamorous image of the Roaring Twenties, with speakeasies, bathtub gin, flappers and gangsters.

However, Prohibition in Lexington was much tamer than the...

Whiskey Bandits:

With Prohibition, a new breed of thieves – the whiskey bandits – began targeting caches of whiskey.  Over the Christmas holiday in 1919, the Versailles Road farm of H. J. Schlesinger was raided of twenty cases of whiskey from its cellar.  He was the son in law of R. S. Strader, a whiskey broker in Lexington.  The next month, Castleton Farm was also raided by bandits who...

During Prohibition, every city with any reputation had a legendary bootlegger.  Chicago had Al Capone, New York had Dutch Schultz and Cincinnati had George Remus.  Lexington had Ike Miller.

Between 1920 and 1924, when Ike Miller was finally sent to Atlanta Penitentiary, he was Lexington’s most prominent bootlegger.  Miller was the supplier of much of the illegal booze in Lexington and Central Kentucky...

R. S. Strader & Son was founded in October 1890 by Robert S. Strader[1] and Wilson P. Strader (his son).  After his father’s death in 1891, Strader became the sole owner.  The firm’s offices and four-story warehouse were located at 74 East Main Street, near Limestone.

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During the 1870s, J. H. Reed operated Jackson & Reed and Reed, Tyler & Company as a wholesale whiskey broker at 25 South Broadway.  The company sold Old Lexington Club Whiskey.  Around 1876 Reed relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and continued to broker whiskey.[i]

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The Reid Distillery was operated by J. G. Reid of Athens from 1882 to 1885.[i]

 

[i] 1877 Atlas of Fayette County, Kentucky.

 

G. W. West & Brothers (1867 – 1871)

Nat Harris (1880 – 1895)

James E. Pepper (1895 – 1900)

Henry Clay Pure Rye Distillery Co. (1900 – 1913)

Henry Clay Distilling Company (1913 – 1918)

The Silver Springs Distillery was located six miles from Lexington, on the Leestown Pike, at the Yarnall Depot on the Lexington, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad (later Louisville &...

In 1881, Richard P. Stoll and Robert B. Hamilton established a partnership to wholesale whiskey.  The firm’s offices and warehouse were located on Vine and Spring Streets.  The firm traded in bulk whiskies from several distilleries around Lexington.  Its primary distillery was the Stoll’s Commonwealth Distillery in Sandersville.  The company advertised, “these whiskies are distilled near Lexington, the center of...

1855- 1908

Distiller and Banker

James S. Stoll was born in Lexington in 1855, the third son of George J. Stoll, Sr. In 1881 he invested, along with his brother, in Stoll, Clay & Company.  In 1891, Stoll and Sanford K. Vannatta established a partnership, known as Stoll, Vannatta & Company, to wholesale whiskey.  At the time of his death in 1908, he was President of the Stoll & Company (...

1851 – 1903

Distiller and Attorney

Richard P. Stoll was born in Lexington on January 21, 1851, the second son of George J. Stoll, Sr. He attended Kentucky University, graduating in 1868.  In 1875, Stoll was elected to the Kentucky Legislature (serving one term).  In 1877, he became the Deputy Director of the Internal Revenue Bureau in Lexington and the next year Commissioner of the Internal Revenue...

James S. Stoll and Sanford K. Vannatta formed Stoll, Vannatta & Company in 1891.  The company’s proprietary brand was Old Elk Rye, bottled from whiskey produced under lease at the Commonwealth Distillery.  This whiskey was sold primarily in Chicago.  Vannatta was from Bloomington, Illinois.

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1825 – 1911

Land Speculator and Distiller

William Tarr was born on June 22, 1825, in Paris, Kentucky.  His first business venture was cultivation of a watermelon patch on the family farm.  With these funds, he became a mule trader and farmer.  Before the Civil War, he entered the distilling business and in 1871 established Wm. Tarr & Company – which acquired the Ashland Distillery in Lexington,...

From 1893 to shortly before Prohibition, the Gutzeit Company was operated by August C. Gutzeit, proprietor, as a wholesale liquor broker, located at 410 West Short Street.  He also was the General Manager  of the E. J. Curley & Company, a Jessamine County distiller, located on the Hickman Creek at the Kentucky River.

This firm sold Old Lexington Club, Old Boone’s Knoll, Zenda, Old Billy Burke...

The Lexington Kentucky Company was located in Cincinnati, Ohio and operated from 1908 to 1916.  The company was a wholesale broker and advertised “Distributors of all leading brands of straight whiskies, bottled in bond and in bulk”.  Their house brand was Old Buck Creek Whiskey.

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Just prior to Prohibition, William B. Corbin sold Old Mock Whiskey[1] for “Family and Club Use.”  His office was located at 111 South Mill Street....

William J. Smith was born in Lexington about 1870 and operated W. J. Smith & Company, retail liquor and wholesale whiskey dealer, from the 1890s to Prohibition.  He also operated a saloon at the corner of Vine and Limestone.  He purchased two thousand barrels of whiskey in February 1903 from W. K. Saffell of Anderson County....

W. Q. Emison & Company was a wholesale whiskey broker during 1887 and 1888, located at 62 East Main Street.[i]  He advertised:

Have in stock the largest lot of OLD WHISKEY

of various brands, distilled in 1866, 1867 and 1869.

AGENTS FOR:  Sachs,...

Many claims have been made regarding who was the first distiller in Kentucky.  However, from available records, the first Kentucky distiller is not known, but it is known that the first settlers converted their corn into whiskey.  William Calk, who settled in Boonsboro in 1775, is recorded as owning distilling equipment.  In 1776, Stephen Ritchie is recorded as distilling whiskey in Nelson County.  Also, among...

      - 1929

Distiller

Joseph Wolf was born in Darmstadt, Germany, and immigrated to Chicago in his early teens.  Arriving in steerage, he worked at odd jobs until he landed a job of liquidating a stock of whiskey on commission.  He became a successful whiskey broker.  He was a founder of the National Wholesale Liquor Dealers Association in 1895.  Wolf began distributing Old Pepper when he purchased...

Headley & Peck (1872 – 1894)

The Woodland Distillery was built in 1872 by the partnership of Headley & Peck.  The partnership consisted of John A. Headley and Charles Y. Peck (his brother-in-law).[i]  Headley had previously been associated with the Henry Clay Distillery.  The...

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