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Issue 115 - Uncovering the past

Whisky Magazine Issue 115
October 2013

 

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Uncovering the past

Archaeological digs at a Kentucky distillery are turning up some interesting things

At the Woodford Reserve Distillery, history is literally being unearthed.

Brown-Forman, Woodford's parent company, has commissioned an archaeological dig at the original Pepper house. In the 1800s, Oscar Pepper inhabited these grounds and along with James C. Crow redefined American whiskey-making practices. Near the current distillery stands the dilapidated house where Peppers once resided.

As a part of the $36.25-million expansion, the distillery plans to move the house to make room for warehouses and hope to restore it for a visitorfriendly experience. Currently, a University of Kentucky archaeological Archaeological digs at a Kentucky distillery are turning up some interesting things team is unearthing the area in search of artifacts; thus far discovering silver spoons, broken china, marbles, a billiards pool cue and other evidence.

Before the current archaeological team sought these finds, Woodford officials discovered the bottom section of an 1807 pot still buried on the property. Markings indicate Fischel Coppersmith in Lexington, Kentucky, made the still. But, who owned it? When was the last time it was used?

“We know that Peppers were distilling here, according to our tax records, by 1812,” says Chris Morris, master distiller of Woodford. “So that still could have been used here by Elijah Pepper, Oscar Pepper, and the famous James Christopher Crow because they both did a small 60 to 70 gallon stills, and that fits in those descriptions.” It's a mystery as ...

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