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Issue 135 - Peerless in Kentucky

Whisky Magazine Issue 135
April 2016


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Peerless in Kentucky

Distillery restarts after nearly 100 years

Kentucky Peerless, a distillery located about a block off a main drag in Louisville, has an old-world museum-like quality about it, despite only filling its first barrel in March 2015. When Corky Taylor, the owner, shows you around, he takes you through a small ‘family room' on the way to the production facility. There are photos of Corky's ancestors – his grandfather, Henry Kraver and his father, Roy Taylor Sr. There are oversized sepia-toned images of a medicinal license and an apothecary bottle. In February, when I met Corky at his distillery, we stood in that modest room and he explained Roy fought in World War II, then became General George Patton's chief aid in 1943. He was also a banker and served on several companies' boards and owned Chicago's famous Palmer House.

And then, after all that excitement and prestige, he returned to his hometown of Henderson, Kentucky and started distilling. In 1889, he was producing eight barrels a day. By 1891, the output skyrocketed to 200 barrels a day. Today, Henry's great grandson is turning out 12 barrels a day, six days a week. (The first one was filled on 4 March, 2015. There are presently 1,504 barrels ageing in the building). And if past is a precursor, he's on a pretty good trajectory.

American craft distilleries are a dime a dozen these days. Even Margie A S Lehrman, Executive Director of the American Craft Spirits Association, said at the Whiskies and Spirits Conference in New York in February that nobody is abso...

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