Endangered 2011: Old Taylor Distillery

Few relics encapsulate the essence of Kentucky’s storied bourbon tradition quite like the Old Taylor Distillery in the annals of its distinguished heritage.

Few relics encapsulate the essence of Kentucky’s storied bourbon tradition quite like the Old Taylor Distillery in the annals of its distinguished heritage. Nestled in the picturesque Franklin County countryside, this venerable establishment once stood as a hallmark of the Commonwealth’s illustrious distilling prowess. Alas, the fate that has befallen this architectural gem is a sobering testament to the fragility of our cultural legacies.

The distillery’s decline can be traced back to 1972 when its operations ceased, and the barrel houses were subsequently repurposed by Jim Beam for storage until 1994. In a fleeting glimmer of hope, the property was acquired in 1996 by Cecil Withrow and Robert Sims, who envisioned a revival of the distillery’s former glory. Their ambitious plans included an arts and crafts mall, a natural bottling operation, and a resurrection of the whiskey distilling business. Regrettably, financial constraints extinguished these dreams, and the mall was shuttered.

The Old Taylor Distillery stood as a silent sentinel for six years, weathering the elements alongside Glenn’s Creek. It is a testament to the craftsmanship of its builders that much of the property remained intact and unscathed by the scourge of vandalism. However, Scott Brady’s recent distillery acquisition has cast a pall over its future.

In a disheartening exchange, Brady dismissed preservationists as “fringe lunatics” and expressed disdain for portraying the property as a haven for urban explorers and graffiti artists. More alarmingly, he revealed that there are no plans to salvage or restore any further structures beyond the selective dismantling of barrel houses for their valuable wood.

It is a bitter irony that the very individuals who profess a commitment to preservation are facilitating this historic landmark’s obliteration. While the pursuit of profit is understandable, the blatant disregard for preserving our cultural heritage is a disservice to the citizens of the Commonwealth.

The fate of the Old Taylor Distillery reminds us of the fragility of our shared history. As custodians of this rich legacy, we are incumbent upon safeguarding these treasures lest they fade into obscurity, erased by the relentless march of time and the insatiable pursuit of personal gain.


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Rosie I am sad to say that no one is allowed on the property. I know this because I was reared in a house just before entering the entrance to this property. My sister still lives in that house. The distillery was a show place in the time of its operation. I just visited there this year and the place is a disgrace. It would be a beautiful place to restore. The old stone house and the springhouse was a show place. There is also a residence on the grounds although it has been vandalized. More info. at chuck2820@att.net.


Is Mr. Brady willing to work with the public to allow them to have access to the property to look around?

It's still no excuse for being diligent and aware of the surroundings – perhaps something has changed since I was last there in 2010.

The Herald-Leader ran a great article yesterday about the expansion of Wild Turkey and the booming bourbon industry in Kentucky. There are now more barrels than there are humans in the state – and it's a wonder how Brady was so short sighted to demolish a massive barrel house for the wood, whereas it could have been shored up and repaired.

Mr. Brady is not a kind fellow, this is true. The property is gorgeous, barrel house cavernous, the gazebo will take your breath away. I've taken pictures on the property twice, and I find something more beautiful each time. Hopefully Mr. Brady or whomever will sell the property to Jim Beam down the road so perhaps they can give it the treatment it deserves.

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