History of distilled 19th century spirits still consumed today
Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Old Overholt  - Originated by Abraham Overholt
 Abraham Lincoln's favorite whiskey!

Kessler Whiskey

Kessler Whiskey - Originated by Julius Kessler

Born in Budapest, Julius Kessler was selling whiskey in Colorado when the silver boom started at Leadville in the late 1870's By coaxing pack mules over the hills from Denver, he got his whiskey to Leadville, where it retailed at $2 for three fingers. Later, when he got his own distilleries, he beat out his rivals by selling direct to retailers. A tall, beaming sales man with a sleek, well-fed look, Julius Kessler managed to pump the hands of at least 40,000 U. S. liquor dealers. That gave him such a runaway advantage that Distillers Securities Corp. ("The Whiskey Trust") put itself and its surplus stocks in his hands. Under President Kessler the "Whiskey Trust" had a brief period of profits before Prohibition reduced it to messing around with yeast, vinegar, denatured alcohol.

In 1921, at 65, Julius Kessler retired to Vienna with several million dollars and 38.000 cigars. In a lifetime of selling liquor Mr. Kessler had to sample many a whiskey. He estimates that the droplets thus consumed add up to five gallons, his total consumption. To make up for such abstinence, he used to buy 10,000 cigars whenever he went to Havana for molasses.

Kessler Whiskey is a American blended whiskey best known for it's slogan, "Smooth as Silk, Kessler". To get his product out, Julius Kessler went from saloon to saloon selling the whisky. Julius himself, retired from his business in 1921

Old Grand Dad Whiskey

Old Grand Dad Whiskey - Originated by Raymond B. Hayden

Basil Hayden, Sr. left Maryland in 1785 and made his way to Kentucky.  He settled in Nelson County, just outside of Bardstown.  One of the first things he did after getting his homestead setup was to build a distillery.  It was well known that Hayden had come from a long line of "whiskey people."   This distillery was set up probably in 1796.  Of course in the years to come Bardstown was to become famous for its many distilleries and the area is still known as the Bourbon Capital of America.  Raymond B. Hayden was the Son of Lewis Hayden and Mary Dant, and was the grandson of Basil Hayden, Sr.

Old Crow Whiskey

Old Crow Whiskey - Dr. James Crow

In 1823, a gentleman physician, Dr. James Crow, arrived in the area. A man apparently trying to escape from a less-than-completely-responsible past (involving bankruptcy and abandonment), Crow was beginning to get his new life in order when he went to work for Colonel Willis Field, a distiller on Grier's Creek near Woodford County. Crow brought his scientific and medical training to what had been a very rough-and-tumble process and the results were astounding. He was able to achieve a consistency of quality never before imagined, one which would give a distiller the ability to make production commitments that could actually be met. Dr. Crow soon moved to the town of Millville on Glenn's Creek and for the next twenty years he was in charge of the Oscar Pepper Distillery (later to become Labrot & Graham) on McCracken Pike. Later he went to work for the Johnson Distillery a couple miles north on Glenn's Creek Road. That distillery later became Old Taylor. He worked there until his death in 1856. Because of his development of methods that would ensure continuity and consistent quality (including the use of measuring devices and the knowledge of how the sour-mash process actually works) many consider Dr. James Crow to be the true father of Bourbon. The man who became the new master distiller, William Mitchell, had worked directly with Crow and knew all his methods. His continuation of Old Crow whiskey was identical to the original. He in turn taught this to his own successor, Van Johnson.

Dr. Crow never actually owned a distillery, though. The enormous Old Crow distillery which sits on Glenn's Creek today was built around 1872, 16 years after he died. Old Crow whiskey was made here, in essentially the exact same way, until Prohibition, and then again after Repeal. National Distillers owned it then, but they had made no changes in the way the bourbon was made. Then, sometime during the 1960's, the plant was refurbished and formula was changed. The new version was different, and there was some public outcry, but National continued to use it until they were purchased by Jim Beam Brands in 1987

Old Taylor Whiskey

Old Taylor Whiskey - Colonel Edmund H. Taylor

Two decades after James Crow's death, the second "father" of Bourbon began his work, also here along Glenn's Creek. Colonel Edmund H. Taylor began his distillery-owner's career at the O.F.C. distillery in Leestown (which later became Ancient Age). After turning over ownership to his partner George T. Stagg, Taylor built a new distillery on Glenn's Creek. It has been called one of the most remarkable sights in the bourbon industry. The main distillery building is made entirely of limestone blocks, in the form of a medieval castle, complete with turrets. A drawing of the castle appears on the label of Old Taylor Bourbon. The castle wasn't just a facade, either; inside were gardens and ornate rooms where Colonel Taylor used to entertain important government officials and politicians. Taylor's contribution was the guarantee of quality in an industry that had lost nearly all credibility. Very few distillers were selling quality product, and virtually none of what good bourbon was being made ever got to the public without being diluted, polluted, and rectified. Edmund Taylor crusaded tirelessly to have laws passed that would ensure quality product, and he was successful. He was the originator of what became known as the Bottled-in-Bond act of 1897. This was essentially a federal subsidy by tax deferral for product made to strict government standards and stored under government supervision. In the process, he was responsible for documenting what those standards would be. And therefore, Edmund H. Taylor, Jr. was given the task of defining Straight Bourbon Whiskey. As a result of the success of this act, other federally enforced standards for food products were enacted, and we can say we owe much of our current standards in many consumable products to this gentleman with a distillery on Glenn's Creek.

Well, maybe a couple of distilleries. Actually, Col. Taylor owned or had an interest in several plants, including the Pepper distillery and Frankfort distillery, and even the Stagg distillery in Leestown was actually known as the E.H.Taylor Jr. Company. Edmund Taylor remained a very powerful figure in the bourbon industry well into the twentieth century. He died, at the age of 90, in 1922.


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