All of us at whiskymerchants.co.uk respectively remind you to enjoy your dram responsibly and ask that only individuals of legal drinking age in your locale can enter this site.
For Alcohol Advice
Published 8 times a year Whisky Magazine is the perfect complement to the dram in your glass.
Every issue brings you fascinating articles on the art, science and romance of the 'water of life',
Plus page after page of Whisky tasting notes
Click Image for more details or to Subscibe
This website has had to be updated to the latest format so it will work on all platforms Mobile, Tablet, Laptop and Pc
Please bare with us as we re-adjust the pages to work properly
Discover Kentucky’s Original Spirit –
One Small Batch at a Time
The Woodford Reserve Distillery History
In 1797, Elijah Pepper began making small batches of handcrafted whiskey in a small Distillery behind the Woodford County Courthouse in Versailles, Kentucky.
As Pepper’s business grew, so did his need for a larger distillery and a larger source of limestone water. In 1812, on the Grassy Springs branch of Glenn’s Creek located just outside Versailles, Pepper found what he needed.
Perfecting A Distillery And Changing An Industry
Elijah Pepper passed away in 1831, and in 1833 his son, Oscar, hired Dr. James Crow, a trained physician and chemist from Scotland, as his head distiller. Crow spent the next twenty-nine years working at the distillery and his efforts changed the face of the American distilling industry forever.
As much scientist as distiller, Crow perfected the sour mash fermentation process – assuring a more consistent whiskey from batch to batch – still used by all bourbon distillers today. He developed custom measuring tools which were quickly adopted by other distillers.
He also pioneered the use of charred oak barrels for superior aging, a definitive standard in today’s industry.
Word of the quality bourbon produced in the distillery on Glenn’s Creek quickly spread. Devotees included Daniel Webster, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay, the noted Kentucky statesman.
The passing of Oscar Pepper in 1865 eventually led to a new breed of owners. In 1878, a major Midwestern whiskey broker named Leopold Labrot and his partner, Frankfort, Kentucky, merchant James Graham, bought the now famous distillery and operated it as “The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, Labrot & Graham Proprietors.” Expansion of the distillery continued, and the two distillers were careful to retain the unique limestone architecture in the design of their aging rackhouses. While other distillers in Kentucky used brick or tin-clad warehouses, Labrot and Graham studied the industry and found that relatively small warehouses with thick stone walls allowed their bourbon to mature smoothly and consistently over time.
Prohibition and a Renewed Spirit
In order to meet the growing post-prohibition demand, Louisville-based Brown-Forman Corp. purchased the Labrot & Graham Distillery in 1940. During the consolidations and mergers of the 1960’s, boutique distilleries, which were small and expensive to run, lost their viability and the distillery was closed.
Restoring Kentucky’s Heritage
Oldest distillery national landmark celebrate its renovation
In 1994, Brown-Forman recreated a by-gone era by repurchasing and restoring the distillery to its pre-prohibition status. The goal was to craft Kentucky’s finest bourbon at the location where its production process was perfected. Woodford Reserve was introduced in 1996 to great acclaim and is the first bourbon to win top honors at all three leading tasting competitions. In 2003 the distillery was renamed Woodford Reserve Distillery to honor its leading brand.
Today, The Woodford Reserve Distillery, a National Historic Landmark, is known throughout the world as the Homeplace of Bourbon. The picturesque site in the heart of thoroughbred country is the only place you can see Kentucky’s two most famous products – bourbon and thoroughbred horses – maturing side by side.
The Woodford Reserve Distillery has returned to its roots as a small boutique distillery and remains prouder than ever of its heritage. It is also the only distillery in the country where authentic bourbon production can be found:
• a consistent supply of pure, cold limestone spring water,
• small cypress fermentation vats,
• unique copper pot stills, the traditional means of producing true small batch bourbons,
• 19th century limestone maturation warehouses.
The result is a product with the unique quality and taste that today’s consumer of premium spirits demands – and that Elijah Pepper himself would be proud to offer. It is more than just the finest Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey produced today. It’s a rare taste of history.
Woodford Reserve Bottlings
Masters Collection Seasoned Oak Finish
Woodford Reserve Distillery
7855 McCraken Pike
Versailles, KY 40383
Phone Visitor Centre for Details and Tickets