Old Taylor Distillery
Located in Frankfort, KY
Photo © 2010 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Old Taylor Distillery History
When Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr. decided to construct a distillery for his "Old Taylor" brand of bourbon whiskey, he envisioned something more grandiose than the industrial-type distilleries often seen at the time. The Old Taylor Distillery was built in 1887 and designed to resemble a medieval castle surrounded by carefully landscaped grounds, including a peristyle spring house, gazebos, fish ponds and sunken gardens. The main building was constructed of hand-cut limestone, mined from Tyrone, Kentucky. Visitors arriving by train would be given a tour of the 83-acre grounds, and it quickly became a popular place for weddings and affluent social gatherings.
The property was sold to National Distilleries Corp., which consolidated Old Taylor and the Old Crow distilleries. Both facilities were later purchased by Jim Bean but when bourbon sales declined in 1972 it had shut down both distilleries, however the warehouses were kept in use (the Old Taylor warehouse was used until the early 1990s).
Atlanta-based developers bought the property in 2005, but only managed to salvage the brick and heart-pine lumber from demolishing some of the warehouses, and restoration of the distillery and the grounds never happened.
In 2015, restoration work on the gardens and the main building had begun, and the facility will be operating as the Castle & Key distillery in 2016, producing bourbon, rye and gin.