Featured

Starting out on the Bourbon Trail

This is the post excerpt.

Advertisements

I’m ready to head out on the Bourbon Trail. My wife and I have already completed the Bourbon Trail and Craft Bourbon Trail. This time we will go more in depth on these distilleries along with the countless other distilleries that are part of the Kentucky Distilleries Association (KDA). We will also visit sites that are associated with the history of bourbon in Kentucky. Stay tuned.

H.E. Pogue Distillery RD #3

Historical Marker #2206 notes the location of the H. E. Pogue Distillery, which operated for more than fifty years near Maysville.

The Ohio River route into what became Kentucky was popular with settlers from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and northern Virginia. In time, the town of Limestone—which eventually became Maysville—developed on the banks of the river at Limestone Creek. From the era of those early pioneers up through the twentieth century, Maysville had an association with distilling whiskey.

The earliest distilleries in Maysville were likely small operations that produced whiskey for local consumption and a limited market. After the Civil War, distiller O. H. P. Thomas produced several brands of whiskey including “Old Time,” and “Old Maysville Club.” Thomas’s chief distiller was Henry Edgar Pogue. In 1876, Pogue bought out Thomas and opened his own distillery at the Maysville city limits. Pogue continued to make several brands that Thomas had started and introduced more. Pogue’s new operation was touted in the “Maysville Bulletin” in the summer of 1876. “The capacity is about eighteen barrels per day,” the article noted, “though only about ten are made. A very important feature in the establishment, is a copper boiler invented by Mr. Pogue, and, used only by him, which affords all the advantages and none of the defects of the apparatus employed in making the best grades of Kentucky liquors.”

By 1900, production was up to fifty barrels per day and Pogue was reputedly among the best distilleries in Kentucky. When Pogue died in 1890, his son Henry Pogue II took over the operation for the next thirty years until he was killed in a distillery accident. Henry Pogue III next ran the business and even survived several years of Prohibition—distilling for medicinal purposes—but ended production in 1926. In 1934, the Pogue Distillery resumed production until it was forced to close yet again due to competition in a new era of distilleries and mass production. After World War II, manufacture again ceased at the Pogue Distillery. In 1973, the distillery was razed.

Today, Pogue descendants have rejoined the distillery business. The company now produces bourbon and rye whiskey in Maysville, on the site of the company’s first location.

Old Pogue has a history dating back to the years following the Civil War. In 1876, the original Pogue distillery, Kentucky registered distillery No. 3, was established in Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, very near a site often said to be the location of Kentucky’s first bourbon distillery.

Prior to Kentucky’s statehood, Maysville was part of Old Bourbon County, Virginia, where pioneer distillers discovered that the Indian corn and limestone water of the region made a product of mellow character and distinguished flavor.

Today, the bourbon-making tradition is carried forward by fifth and sixth generation Pogues using the original Pogue recipes under a time-honored and fixed formula. Our current base of operation is located in the very same plot of land in Maysville, and we are proud to offer superior quality, small-batch bourbon and rye spirits.


That was the short version. For you history buffs out there, here is the long version: Following the Revolutionary War, a few venturesome settlers migrated down the Ohio River. One of their first stops was at the junction of the Ohio River with Limestone Creek, an area in centuries past known for buffalo fording the Ohio River and beating a path to inland Kentucky in search of nutrient rich salt licks. This migration pattern was the beginning of old “Buffalo Trace”. Here in the original Bourbon County or “Old Bourbon” as it was commonly called, the settlement of Limestone Landing was formed. Limestone Landing became Maysville, KY in 1792 and the whisky that passed through Maysville was known as Old Bourbon County Whisky.

Limestone Landing became host to several early bourbon distilleries. In fact, the region experienced an influx of pioneer distillers seeking to escape the taxation on spirits associated with the payment of Revolutionary War debt. The evasion of taxation culminated in the mustering of troops to put down the protest that came to be known as the “Whiskey Rebellion.” After the rebellion and nearly 30 years of marketing corn whisky from Old Bourbon county, in 1821 the Maysville commission merchants “Stout & Adams” placed the first advertisement for just Bourbon Whisky in the Western Citizen newspaper. This advertisement is often credited as the document that named the product we enjoy today. Here’s a short video from the documentary “Bourbon & Kentucky: A History Distilled” reviewing some of bourbon’s history:

<div class="sqs-block video-block sqs-block-video" id="block-yui_3_10_1_1_1397908625805_140633" data-block-json="{" layout":"caption-hidden","overlay":true,"description":{"html":"uploaded by tmwmedia on 2013-04-19."},"hsize":null,"floatdir":null,"customthumb":"53527217e4b0768cad09c1c0","html":"

\n”,”url”:”http://youtu.be/2ePqXWIP8J8?t=2m17s&#8221;,”width”:854,”height”:480,”providerName”:”YouTube”,”thumbnailUrl”:”http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/2ePqXWIP8J8/hqdefault.jpg&#8221;,”resolvedBy”:”youtube”}” data-block-type=”32″ style=”position:relative; height:auto; padding:15px; outline:none; box-shadow:rgba(128,128,128,0)0px0px0px1pxinset; transition:box-shadow0.2sease-in-out0s; clear:both;”>

<div class="sqs-video-wrapper video-none" id="yui_3_17_2_1_1568067749482_118" data-html="” data-provider-name=”YouTube” style=”position:absolute; top:0px; left:0px; width:384.19px; height:215.935px;”>

Henry Edgar Pogue (1825-1890)

Henry Edgar Pogue (1825-1890)

Shortly after this time in 1876, Henry Edgar Pogue (H.E. Pogue I) purchased the Old Time Distillery from O.H.P Thomas. H.E. Pogue was the head distiller for O.H.P Thomas at the time of the acquisition and produced “Old Time” Sour Mash and “Old Maysville Club” Rye. The distillery became Kentucky Registered Distillery No.3, located in the 7th District within the Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky city limits.

According to some records, the H.E. Pogue Distillery’s original brand was “Old Pogue” Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky. Pogue’s whiskies quickly established themselves throughout the country as whiskies of superior quality and they flourished in popularity. Early brands in the late 1800s and early 1900s were “Old Time” Sour Mash Pure Copper Whisky, “Old Maysville Club” Rye Whisky, “Royal Club” Wheat Whisky, “Old Pogue” Straight Bourbon Whisky, “Royal Club” Pure Rye Whisky, “Niagara Whisky,” “Belle of Maysville” Fire Copper Whisky, “Old 56” Gentleman’s Whisky, “Ace” Bourbon Whisky, “Good News” Bourbon Whisky, “Lincoln Club,” and many others.

A newspaper account from January 25, 1900 notes that the H.E. Pogue distillery was distilling 50 barrels of whisky daily and stated,”it is said by those who know that there is no better distillery in Kentucky”. Original correspondence from the early 1900s reveals orders from Yuma, Arizona, Oklahoma, and even as far as Japan. The newspaper account went on to report that the Pogue Distillery had “built up a large business strictly through honorable methods” and “enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best known and best patronized in the State of Kentucky”.

H.E. Pogue II (1859-1919)

H.E. Pogue II (1859-1919)

H.E. Pogue I died November 1, 1890 in an accident in the distillery and was succeeded by his son, H.E. Pogue II until 1919, when he too passed in a work-related accident. While fighting in World War I at the age of 23, H.E. Pogue III was informed of his father’s death and returned home to run the distillery. Less than one year later in 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified and the United States Congress subsequently passed the Volstead Act, ushering in the Prohibition Era, which prohibited the sale of distilled spirits, including whisky, except for medicinal purposes.

H.E. Pogue III (1894 - 1954)

H.E. Pogue III (1894 – 1954)

During the early 1920s, Pogue sold limited quantities of its whisky for medicinal purposes under the “Old Jordan” brand. “Old Jordan” was an 18 year old, 91 proof whisky. At this time, the Pogue distillery also legally distributed significant amounts of its whisky through famed Cincinnati pharmacist George Remus. During the early Prohibition years, H.E. Pogue III acquired two other distilleries: the Greendale Distillery of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on June 22, 1921 and New England Distilling Co. of Covington, Kentucky on November 30, 1925. Greendale manufactured Gin and Spring Water Whisky and the New England Distilling Co. primarily made “Red Star” Rum, which was used as a flavoring in tobacco products.

LastBarrel.jpg

Despite these advances, however, Prohibition eventually took its toll on the Pogue Distillery. On August 10, 1926 the Pogue Distillery ended its operations as a bonded whisky storage warehouse for the government when the last barrel of whisky (Barrel #6796) was shipped to the Louisville Warehouse Company for consolidated government supervision. As a newspaper account reported at the time, “So many thousands of barrels have entered and departed that, if turned into terms of money at bootleg prices, it would far exceed the national debt.” The account concludes “the passage of the Volstead Act made sure the passing of this business”.

At the end of Prohibition in 1933, H.E. Pogue III became a consultant to various entities and individuals attempting to restart distilleries now that whisky production was legal once again. Still troubled by the early deaths of his father and grandfather, Pogue III did not want to reopen the Pogue distillery and instead negotiated the sale of the distillery to Rose of Chicago on October 22, 1935. Shortly thereafter, following an interval of 18 years, operations at the H.E. Pogue Distillery resumed production. Rose renovated the distillery, including the construction of three new 10,000 barrel of warehouses at the original distillery site in Maysville, KY. A circular published after the renovation may be seen below.

Today, the fifth and sixth generations of Pogues, direct descendants of H.E. Pogue I, II, and III, including H.E. Pogue IV and H.E. Pogue V, return to offer the discriminating whisky drinker super-premium handcrafted whiskies fashioned from the original Pogue recipes. As one of Kentucky’s oldest whisky families, the Pogue family is pleased to offer products never changed or cheapened in character, and has never compromised quality for quantity.

Bond & Lillard Distillery RD #274, 8 th District Anderson County, KY

1820: The original distillery was built by John Bond on a site that was close to the W H McBrayer plant on Cedar Brook.

1836: The distillery was moved a short distance.

1842: John Bond died and the distillery passed to his son, David Bond.

1849: W F Bond (David’s brother) took control. Bond partnered with his sister Margaret’s husband, Christopher C Lillard, in 1869. Lillard had served as a Lieutenant with the 2nd Kentucky Infantry during the Civil War. He died in 1896.

1892: On June 16, the distillery was razed by fire with a loss of $10,000. The building was not insured (New York Times, 6-17-1892) .
Insurance underwriter records from 1895 note that a new distillery had been built. It was of iron-clad construction. The property included thee warehouses:
Warehouse No. 1 A — , iron-clad with a metal or slate roof and located 76 ft south of the still. The warehouse was part Free
Warehouse No. 2 — , frame with a metal or slate roof, located 135 ft SE of the still
Warehouse No. 3 — , iron-clad with a metal or slate roof, located 170 ft north of the still.

1899: The distillery was acquired by The Trust, who improved it. Control of distillery operation was assumed by Stoll & Co. of Lexington, KY. Their letterheads and other advertising of the time showed them to be “Sole Proprietors.”
The distillery closed with Prohibition, although the Bond & Lillard brand name continued to be used by AMS and its successors well into the later part of the century

Internal Revenue recorded warehouse transactions for The Bond & Lillard Distillery as follows:
( explain: origin of these records, letter codes )

  • 1898: Bond & Lillard — T, G, W
  • 1901: Bond & Lillard — D, T, W
  • 1901: Bond & Lillard Inc. — T, E, W
  • 1903: Bond & Lillard Inc. — D, T, W
  • 1903: Bond & Lillard — T, W
  • 1904: Bond & Lillard Inc. — D, T, B, W
  • 1904: Bond & Lillard — T
  • 1914: Bond & Lillard — no details given
  • 1920: Bond & Lillard Inc. — no details given

John Dowling Distillery

Dec. 18, 1902 (Newspaper article)
A Model Distillery

Mr John Dowling will soon have completed and ready for
operation his new distillery built where for years stood
the old J M Walker house. The plant has been built new
from the ground up and new warehouses, offices, etc take
the places of the old ones. Mr Dowling has had years of
experience in the distilling business having at present in operation two other large houses. He fully understands all the
details connected with the erection of a structure of this kind and the little but great conveniences are not overlooked by him. Owing to the delay in the shipment of the machinery for the new plant Mr Dowling tells us that he will
be unable to start before the first of February when he will
run full capacity mashing one hundred bushels a day.

History of distillery
J.M. Walker Distillery, RD #166 (before 1882-1900)
J.R. Walker Distillery, RD #434 (1900-1903)
John Dowling Distillery, RD #59 (1903-1919)
Closed at Prohibition

John Dowling
BIRTH 20 Jun 1841
Roscommon, County Roscommon, Ireland
DEATH 6 Apr 1903 (aged 61)
Lawrenceburg, Anderson County, Kentucky, USA
BURIAL
Lawrenceburg Cemetery
Lawrenceburg, Anderson County, Kentucky, USA

The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery RD #52, 7 th District Woodford County, KY

ca. 1800: Elijah Pepper and his brother–in-law, a Mr. O’Bannon, operated a distillery in Versailles, the current site of the court house.

1817: The partnership dissolved and Elijah Pepper relocated the distillery to a location on Glenn’s Creek, five miles NW of Versailles.

1838: Oscar Pepper, Elijah’s son, had by now inherited the distillery and established the Old Oscar Pepper brand. Pepper’s distiller since 1820 had been James Crow, whose expertise ensured that the brand was highly successful.

1864: Oscar Pepper died and his estate was handled on behalf of his young son (James E Pepper) by E H Taylor Jr.

1874: Taylor rebuilt the plant and continued to run it.

1878: The distillery was sold to Leopold Labrot and James H Graham of Frankfort. Graham was plant manager, Labrot was in charge of sales, and they continued producing Old Oscar Pepper as their only brand.

1892: Insurance underwriter records locate the distillery 9 miles SE of Frankfort. They suggest that the distillery was built of stone with a metal or slate roof. The property included a granary with two corn cribs, plus four bonded warehouses, all stone with metal or slate roofs:
Warehouse No. 1 A — 100 ft north of the still. Part of this warehouse was Free.
Warehouse No. 2 B — adjoining No. 1 A, 100 ft NE of the still
Warehouse No. 3 C — 104 ft south of the still.
Warehouse No. 4 D — 285 ft south of the still.

At that time, it was being operated by Labrot & Graham.

1900: James Graham died but Labrot continued operating the distillery on his own.

1915: Labrot & Graham were succeeded by Labrot & Graham Inc., a new company consisting of T W Hinde of Chicago, D K Weiskopf of the Republic Distributing Co. in Cincinnati, Richard A (Alexander) Baker, who was Labrot’s son-in-law and cousin to E H Taylor Jr. (note that Bakers are mentioned in the warehouse logs below: Irma Baker was Leopold’s daughter), and Carl Weitzel of Chicago.

1918: Prohibition caused the distillery to close and the warehouses were emptied, the stocks of whiskey being moved to concentration warehouses and sold for medicinal purposes by Frankfort Distillery.

1935: The distillery was rebuilt by R A Baker and others, operating as Labrot & Graham, and was purchased by Brown-Forman in 1940. It was idled for many years, but now produces “Woodford Reserve,”

Elijah Pepper: He was the founding father of the Pepper distilling dynasty, born about 1775 in Fauquier County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Pepper and Elizabeth Holton, accounted “an English lady.” In 1794, not long out of his teens, Elijah married Sarah O’Bannon, who the records indicate may have been only 13 or 14 at the time. In 1797, with Sarah and her brother, John O’Bannon, this Pepper moved more than 500 miles west into Kentucky, settling near the town of Versailles, Woodford County. There he established his first distillery.

After moving for several years to Bourbon County, Elijah returned to Woodford County and by 1812 was paying taxes on 200 acres along Glenn’s Creek. He had selected this location because a branch stream coursed through the property and three pristine springs gushed near the banks of the creek. There he established a farm, a gristmill and a distillery. Although other nearby Kentucky farmer had been forced to give up distilling because of the federal taxes imposed, Elijah seemingly had deeper pockets, bought their grain and legally made it into whiskey.
By that time Elijah and Sarah had a family of seven children, four boys and three girls. For them he built a two-story log house with a massive exterior limestone chimney. The only part of the original Pepper settlement that remains, the house was enlarged by subsequent residents. It is shown here as part of a Kentucky archeological project that has sought to restore and preserve the site.

All of Elijah’s structures were built of timbers on foundations of stone. Land division maps indicate the grist mill was constructed high on the stream where the force of the water could turn a wheel and that his distillery was nearby. The location of his slave quarters has not been identified, for — truth be told — the Peppers were slave owners. Census records for 1810 indicate that the family had nine enslaved blacks, With the prosperity of his holdings, Elijah was able over the next ten years to increase his slave holdings to twelve, seven males and five females. Owning more hands for field work allowed Elijah to increase his land holdings to 350 acres.

The prosperity that followed in the next decade allowed him to buy even more slaves and the 1830 census recorded him holding thirteen males and twelve females in bondage. An inventory taken at Elijah’s death in March 1831 provided other indications of his wealth. His distillery included six copper kettle stills, similar to the one shown here, 74 mash tubs, a number of kegs and 41 barrels of aging whiskey, equivalent to 1,560 gallons. His livestock counted 22 horses, 113 hogs, 125 sheep and lambs, and more than 30 head of cattle. He also owned numerous implements for use in agriculture and timbering.
Sarah O’Bannon Pepper: Only days before his death, Elijah Pepper made a will that left the distillery and other property to his wife. Now about 50 years old, Sarah seems to have been fully up to the task. The daughter of William O’Bannon and Annie Neville, she was the niece of General John Neville of Virginia, a prominent officer in the Civil War and a personal friend of George Washington. The Nevilles were wealthy gentry in Virginia and may have assisted the Peppers financially at the start.
Although Sarah’s education may have been truncated by her early marriage, her husband entrusted Sarah with aspects of managing their large farm and associated businesses. The inventory of Elijah’s possessions indicate that she had overseen purchases of farm and distillery equipment including, “stills and tubs, etc., in still house.” She also likely was responsible for buying the carpeting, silver and other expensive furnishings that are said to have graced the Pepper home.
The presumption of an historian who researched the property for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places is that after Elijah’s death Sarah was in charge of managing the family businesses, including the distillery and whiskey sales, for a period of about seven years, 1831 until 1838. That year she sold her interest to her eldest son, Oscar Pepper, who had been assisting her.

Oscar Neville Pepper: Born in 1809, Oscar took the relatively small whiskey business his father had founded to a new level. Thus 1838 is recognized as the founding year of the re-named Oscar Pepper Distillery and the origin of the “Old Oscar Pepper” brand. After buying out the shares of his brothers and sisters, Oscar began making major improvements on the property. He replaced the log structures of his father’s milling and distilling businesses with stone buildings and put an addition on the house. Indicative of the amount of construction going on was a record in the 1850 census that a stone mason from Ireland named Thomas Mayhall was living with the family.
The move from timber to stone was not a difficult one since the hillsides that surrounded the Pepper property were a rich source of limestone, a mineral important to the farmer-distiller families. The limestone bedrock was good for growing corn and the waters of limestone-filtered springs helped produce whiskey with a distinct flavor. Working with limestone for construction, however, took the kind of expertise that Mayhall brought. To form building blocks the bedrock had to be quarried and shaped. To create mortar the limestone had to be fired, ground and slaked. As indicated by land records, the resulting distillery building was a one-and-a half story rectangle structure with an asymmetrical gable roof about 60 by 75 feet in area. Shown below is a picture of Pepper’s stone distillery.
Oscar’s most important decision was to hire as his master distiller the now-famous Dr. James Crow, a Scottish chemist. Crow has been hailed as the individual who single-handed enhanced the bourbon-making process by improving and codifying sour-mash fermentation, pot still distillation, and the process of aging in wooden barrels.

Crow also insisted that no more than two and one-half gallons of whiskey should be produced from a bushel of grain. Shown here is a device that may have been invented by Crow. It is a single chamber where the alcoholic content of distilled bourbon could be tested. This example included hydrometers for checking both the first and second distillations.
Crow worked for the Peppers from 1833 until 1855, with exceptions being 1837 and 1838, possibly because Oscar’s stone construction was proceeding. Crow’s deal was that that he would be compensated by being given one-tenth of the production. In 1855 the distillery produced 80 barrels from which Crow presumably drew ten. In his admiration for the Scotsman, Oscar named one whiskey “Old Crow” and gave the distiller a house of his own on the property.
Meanwhile, Oscar Pepper was having a personal life. In June 1845 he married Nancy Ann (also given as Annette) “Nannie” Edwards, a woman born and raised in Woodford County who was 18 years old when they wed and about 17 years younger than her husband. In subsequent years under Oscar’s leadership the farm and distillery flourished and his family increased to seven children. The 1860 census indicated real estate valued at $31,000, the equivalent of some $770,000 today. His personal property that included such extravagances as a piano, an icebox, and law books was valued at $36,000.
Oscar’s wealth also included twelve male and eleven female slaves, some of them obviously inherited from Elijah. They would have been tending the crops on his large farm as well as working in the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery along side Dr. Crow. A record of births in Woodford County for 1859 lists Oscar and Nannie having a baby on April 10 to whom no name yet had been given, but data suggests later was christened Mary. The same year two of the Peppers’ slave women had given birth in August, a girl named Maria and a boy named Willie. Oscar Pepper is recorded in the column for the father’s name. My guess is that because slaves were considered property not persons, he appears there as the owner not the progenitor.

Oscar Pepper died in June 1865 at the age 56 and with his family and friends mourning by his graveside was interred in the Lexington Cemetery in Fayette County. Shown here is his gravestone.
Nannie Edwards Pepper: The inventory of Oscar’s possessions taken after his death indicate how much he had expanded the Pepper estate. It included 400 barrels of corn, 400 bushes of rye, 40 bushels of barley malt and 30 barrels of barley, a large copper still and a boiler, all part of the distilling operation. The alcohol on hand included 120 gallons of whiskey. This Pepper owned 829 acres of land and livestock that included 21 horses and mares, 7 mules, 25 milk cows, 30 yearlings and steers, 56 sheep and more than 100 hogs.
Unlike his father Oscar left no will. A court settlement in 1869 divided his property in seven unequal lots for his seven children. Presley O’Bannon Pepper, the youngest, only seven years old, received the largest share, including 160 acres of land, the distillery, the grist mill and the family home. This was the court’s way carefully of providing for Nannie Pepper. Since P. O’Bannon was a minor and would remain so for another 14 years, it put most of the financially productive property in her hands.
Still a relatively young woman at 36, Nannie, unlike her mother-in-law Sarah, seems to have had no interest in operating the distiller by herself. Moreover, since the end of the Civil War all the Pepper slaves were gone. As guardian of P. O’Bannon’s inheritance, she soon leased the property to Gaines, Berry & Company of Frankfort, Kentucky, a firm where the famous Col. E. H. Taylor Jr. was a partner. The agreement gave the Frankfort group control over the distillery and all its equipment, the distiller’s house, and two stone warehouses. The two-year agreement also included the grist mill and a pen near the distillery where the hogs were fed the spent mash.
Born in 1850, Nannie’s eldest son, James, 15 years old at the time of his father’s death, appears to have be given a role in the running of the distillery by Gaines, Berry & Co. They appended the name “Old Crow Distillery” to the Pepper property and made “Old Crow” their flagship brand.
James Pepper: Possibly egged on by the ambitious Col. Taylor [see my post of Jan. 2015], James Pepper apparently grew tired of playing second fiddle to his mother and in 1872 successfully sued to gain control of the distillery. The result apparently did not cause a serious mother-son breach as Nannie is recorded giving a deposition for James later in a court case.
The next few years for the Pepper distillery are somewhat muddled. After taking control, James apparently teamed with Col. Taylor, who had broken with Gaines, Berry and the two made improvements in the plant and increased operations. Gaines, Berry, however, apparently retained sufficient financial interest that the “Old Crow” trademark was transferred to them, leaving James with the Old Oscar Pepper brand.
After five years of operating the distillery, James experienced severe financial difficulties and was declared bankrupt in 1877. The Peppers’ loss was Col. Taylor’s temporary gain as he took sole ownership of the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery. But Taylor — who had other distillery interests — shortly after met with his own financial downfall. That led to the transfer of the Pepper distillery briefly to George T. Stagg, another well-known Kentucky whiskey man, and finally in 1878 to Leopold Labrot and James Graham of Frankfort. Shown above is an illustration of the distillery at the time of their purchase. Never again would a Pepper family member own the property founded by Elijah, nurtured by Sarah, expanded by Oscar, protected by Nannie, and lost by James.

Afterword: Although the Old Oscar Pepper distillery was in other hands, the Pepper name continued for years in the trade when James later founded his own distillery in Lexington, [see my post of September 2012]. When James died in 1906, he was interred near his father and Nannie, who had passed in 1899. A large monument, three Doric pillars on a three step base, marks the spot where the Pepper clan is buried in Lexington Cemetery.

ca. 1800: Elijah Pepper and his brother–in-law, a Mr. O’Bannon, operated a distillery in Versailles, the current site of the court house.

1817: The partnership dissolved and Elijah Pepper relocated the distillery to a location on Glenn’s Creek, five miles NW of Versailles.

1838: Oscar Pepper, Elijah’s son, had by now inherited the distillery and established the Old Oscar Pepper brand. Pepper’s distiller since 1820 had been James Crow, whose expertise ensured that the brand was highly successful.

1864: Oscar Pepper died and his estate was handled on behalf of his young son (James E Pepper) by E H Taylor Jr.

1874: Taylor rebuilt the plant and continued to run it.

1878: The distillery was sold to Leopold Labrot and James H Graham of Frankfort. Graham was plant manager, Labrot was in charge of sales, and they continued producing Old Oscar Pepper as their only brand.

1892: Insurance underwriter records locate the distillery 9 miles SE of Frankfort. They suggest that the distillery was built of stone with a metal or slate roof. The property included a granary with two corn cribs, plus four bonded warehouses, all stone with metal or slate roofs:
Warehouse No. 1 A — 100 ft north of the still. Part of this warehouse was Free.
Warehouse No. 2 B — adjoining No. 1 A, 100 ft NE of the still
Warehouse No. 3 C — 104 ft south of the still.
Warehouse No. 4 D — 285 ft south of the still.

At that time, it was being operated by Labrot & Graham.

1900: James Graham died but Labrot continued operating the distillery on his own.

1915: Labrot & Graham were succeeded by Labrot & Graham Inc., a new company consisting of T W Hinde of Chicago, D K Weiskopf of the Republic Distributing Co. in Cincinnati, Richard A (Alexander) Baker, who was Labrot’s son-in-law and cousin to E H Taylor Jr. (note that Bakers are mentioned in the warehouse logs below: Irma Baker was Leopold’s daughter), and Carl Weitzel of Chicago.

1918: Prohibition caused the distillery to close and the warehouses were emptied, the stocks of whiskey being moved to concentration warehouses and sold for medicinal purposes by Frankfort Distillery.

1935: The distillery was rebuilt by R A Baker and others, operating as Labrot & Graham, and was purchased by Brown-Forman in 1940. It was idled for many years, but now produces “Woodford Reserve,”

Internal Revenue recorded warehouse transactions for The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery as follows:
( explain: origin of these records, letter codes )

Buffalo Springs Distillery

RD #105, 7 th District
Scott County, KY

Stamping Ground is a small town in Kentucky’s Scott County. It was so named by its first settlers, who observed herds of bison trampling the grasses around a fruitful spring. Not long after the buffalo departed, the spring was turned to the production of whiskey. There was a distillery on the site for about 100 years.

The one known as Buffalo Springs Distillery was constructed early in the 20th century. It produced several bourbon brands including Boots and Saddle. It came back and was substantially rebuilt after Prohibition. Otis Beam, one of the seven master distiller sons of Joseph L. Beam, was the distiller. Eventually purchased by Seagram, it ceased production for good in the 1960s and stood vacant for many years thereafter.
Buffalo Springs was typical of the many small town distilleries that once abounded in the region. It generally operated from late fall until early spring, employing local farmers for the period between harvest and planting. As one of the few sources of non-farm employment, it dominated the local economy and was a powerful part of the town’s consciousness.
Historical Marker #2091 in Stamping Ground (Scott County) notes the location of Buffalo Springs, which provided an important supply of water for local distilleries.

Large herds of buffalo once wandered what became Kentucky. These large mammals grazed on the rich grasses and native cane in the central part of the state, and sought out salt licks and springs. One such spring was located in what is now Scott County in a town known as Stamping Ground. Thousands of buffalo would congregate at this spring, causing the ground to be plowed by their heavy bodies and sharp hooves. These buffalo also created the trails that eventually turned into many of the region’s first roads.

In the nineteenth century, local industry followed the example of the buffalo and set up shop near the spring. First, as early as 1814, a tannery was located there. Then, two woolen mills were established in the area. In 1869, a firm purchased one of the woolen mill buildings and converted it into a distillery. The operation changed hands a number of times before coming into local ownership in the early twentieth century. Prohibition put a moratorium on the distillery, but it reopened in 1934, when the amendment was repealed.

Buffalo Springs Distilling Company expanded their operations and obtained rights to Buffalo Springs as a water source from the town of Stamping Ground. In 1941, the plant was sold to the George T. Stagg Company, who owned it for ten years before selling to Schenely Distilleries, Incorporated. The distillery ceased operations in 1968, and, in 1973, Stamping Ground bought the property. In 1974, a tornado damaged many of the property’s buildings. The remaining distillery buildings were razed in 2007.


The distillery was orginally established in 1853 by Robert Samuels, in building that has previously served as a woolen mill.

1868: The distillery was acquired by the Criglers of Covington, KY.

1890: The distillery was sold to Morrin, Powers & Co. of Kansas City (Cecil 1999).

Insurance underwriter records compiled in 1892 suggest that the distillery was of frame construction and property included a single iron-clad, bonded warehouse located 100 ft NE from the still.

At that time, it was being operated as Mullins & Crigler.

Internal Revenue recorded warehouse transactions for The Buffalo Springs Distillery as follows:
( explain: origin of these records, letter codes )

Cedar Brook Distillery RD#44 District 8

3.McBrayer Distillery, c1900

1844: The distillery was established by William Harrison McBrayer, better known as Judge W H McBrayer. McBrayer was a dry goods merchant before becoming a distiller and later served in the KY senate. According to a genealogy website, the land upon which the distillery sat was purchased by McBrayer from a former slave of the Ryan family. The Ryans had no heirs and had willed their farm and land to their former slave, Uncle Dave, whom they had liberated some time before their death.

Company literature dated 1916 (not shown) cites 1847 as the year in which “Andrew McBrayer” built his distillery in a “primitive little log hut”.

1888: McBrayer died on December 6 and the distillery passed to his three grandchildren: Mary, Wallace and William Moore. McBrayer’s son-in-law, D L Moore (married to Henrietta McBrayer) was named as executor and continued to run the distillery on behalf of his children.

The ninth clause of McBrayer’s will stated that his heirs could the run the distillery in his name for three years after his death, “after which time I desire that my name be entirely stricken from the business”. The heirs claimed in a suit (April 1894) that the “W H McBrayer Cedar Brook Distillery” brand was a valuable trade mark worth at least $200,000 and that it should continue beyond the three-year window permitted by the clause. The petition that was supported by the courts (The Kentucky Law Reporter, Vol XVI, 1895).

1892: Insurance underwriter records note that the distillery was built of stone with a metal or slate roof. The property included three bonded warehouses (Warehouses A, B and C), all of frame construction with metal or slate roofs, set 80 ft apart about one mile north of the distillery. A Free Warehouse of similar construction was located 305 ft east of the bonded warehouses.

The insurance records identify the owner as being the Cedar Brook Distillery Co., being operated by D L Moore.

1899: The distillery was sold to The Trust, who enlarged it and ran it until Prohibition.

Judge W. H. McBrayer

 

 

Cliff Springs Distillery RD #112 District 8

1868: The distillery was built by Walker, Martin & Co., consisting of Monroe Walker, Sam P Martin and James Ripy (Anderson News, June 1906, cited in Cecil, 1999).

1869: The distillery was sold to W H McBrayer and Thomas B Ripy (son of James above).

1870: Ripy becomes sole owner.

1890: The old still-house was replaced with a new, three-street brick building.

1892: Insurance underwriters suggest that the distillery was brick-built with a metal or slate roof. The property included a cattle barn and a shed some distance removed from the still house, and thee warehouses:
Warehouse A or No. 1 — brick, stone and iron-clad with a metal or slate roof, located 118 ft north of the still.
Warehouse B or No. 2 — iron-clad with a metal or slate roof, located 330 ft south of the still and 101 ft beyond C
Warehouse C or No. 3 — frame and iron-clad, located 118 ft SE of the still.

At the time, the distillery was being operated as “T B Ripy’s Cliff Springs Dist’g Co.” and as “Anderson County Sour Mash Dist’g Co. No 112.”

1899: The distillery was acquired by The Trust in the guise of the newly-formed Kentucky Distilleries & Warehouse Corp.

1920: Prohibition closed the distillery and it was dismantled.