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 purchased the site on January 4, 1869, for $1,000.   The distillery was mortgaged on February 19, 1869, for $20,000 to Grotenkemper and Company, whiskey brokers of Cincinnati (Henry Grotenkemper and Henry Schultze).  The mortgage funded the construction of the distillery. 

The distillery had three floors of seventy two hundred square feet each.  Three warehouses had the storage capacity of thirteen thousand barrels.  Water was drawn from the Ater Spring (which also supplied the adjacent Ashland distillery).  One sixty horsepower steam engine supplied power.

A whiskey recession forced the distillery to close in 1870.  In 1872, the distillery was sold by the Internal Revenue Bureau for non-payment of excise taxes.  Hinde was assessed $3,010 “for barrel and capacity tax, due to United States, also for store keeper’s reimbursement” for 1870.  In 1876, the property (described as “the distillery built by John D. Hinde, known as Lexington Distillery”) was sold to John H. Temmen, of Cincinnati, Ohio for $10,000.

In 1874 the plant was leased to Dwight A. Aiken (which see) of Lexington for three years (the lease was renewed several times).   He operated the plant as D. A. Aiken & Company and produced six thousand five hundred barrels annually.  He used the brand name D. A. Aiken.  The market value of this production was $130,000.  The company had capital of $50,000.  The company’s production schedule lasted ten months, with fifteen hands employed.  Workers were paid $1.50 per day.  The company distilled exclusively sweet mash whiskey.  The plant could produce fifty barrels per day.  The mash bill included five hundred bushels, comprising seventy-six (76%) percent corn and twenty-four (24%) percent rye and barley.  The sweet mash was allowed to ferment for seventy-two hours.  The company maintained a cattle-feeding operation with the stillage for six hundred head.

In March 1882, the distillery was destroyed by fire.  The fire was caused by an explosion of a coal-oil lamp in the distillery’s office.  The distillery was a total loss, estimated at $25,000, but the warehouse was saved.  The company had insurance coverage of $7,500.   The same year, during a short-lived recession in the whiskey market, T. N. Allen was appointed receiver of the company.  The primary creditor was the private bank of D. A. Sayre & Company, with a loan of $7,500.

On April 14, 1883, half of the bonded warehouse collapsed and the remaining portion slumped two feet.  The warehouse was full, with two thousand barrels of whiskey stored in seven tiers.  The ground was soaked and puddles of bourbon were everywhere.  Whiskey spilled into the Town Branch Creek.  The company hired twelve men and a derrick to salvage as much whiskey as possible.  Roughly half of the bourbon was lost.  The cause was determined to be a faulty foundation, which had locust pile driven in the ground during the winter.  With the ground frozen, the piles were not driven to bedrock.

The plant sat idle for several years, until 1892 when it was sold to the William Tarr.   The distillery was demolished and the warehouses were used for storage.  Nothing remains today.

William M. Ambrose, Bottled In Bond under U. S. Government Supervision, Limestone Press, 2008