John A. Barry Distillery

The John A. Barry Distillery, later known as Old Poindexter distillery, is an abandoned brandy and bourbon distillery in Ekron, Kentucky.


In September 1883, Werden Archie formed the P.P. Archey and Company, 11 12 opening a brandy distillery 2 4 on the northern limits of Ekron a month later. 11 The plant was leased to Albert Barry, mayor of Cloverport 16 who commuted daily to the distillery via the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. 4 Local farmers sold apples, pears, and peaches to the distillery.

Frank Thompson, a distillery foreman, was shot three times and killed by Werden Archie on October 31, 1895. 16 17 Thompson had been reportedly anxious over rumors that the distillery would close, but Archie, under instructions from Barry, continued to operate it. A dispute between Thompson and Archie caused a quarrel which ended in the shooting.

With Archie jailed for the murder, the P.P. Archey distillery was closed and put up for sale. 7 In July 1900, the distillery was reopened by Barry who planned to operate it as soon as the fruit season would permit. The brandy distillery was incorporated as the John A. Barry Distillery on June 27, 1934. 5

An advertisement for the John A. Barry Distillery from the Courier-Journal on December 8, 1934.

A new four-story barrelhouse, designed by Walter C. Wagner, was constructed in 1936. 14 The warehouse measured 70-feet × 90-feet and boasted a capacity of 5,000 barrels.

The John A. Barry Distillery went into bankruptcy on September 4, 1937. 15

Old Poindexter Distillery

John A. Barry Distillery was acquired by the Franklin County Distillery on April 6, 1944. 8 Old Poindexter was formed as the Franklin County Distillery in Franklin County in 1933. 9 Upon relocation, the company changed its name to Old Poindexter Distillery.

Old Poindexter was unusual in that the firm used 60% corn and 40% small grain as opposed to 70% to 72% corn used by others. 2 Unmalted barley was added into the mix. The company produced two labels: Old Poindexter, a five-year-old bottled-in-bond, and Old Barry, a three-year-old whiskey. 9

The company announced on August 26, 1948, 17 that it planned to cease operations of its distillery. 9 At the time, the operation was rated for a grain mashing capacity of 1,350 bushels daily, boasted four warehouses that could hold 80,000 barrels, and employed 100 persons. An auction for the buildings, equipment, and specific brand names, was set for October 25, 1948. 13

On November 21, 1948, Schenley Distillers, of Cincinnati, purchased the Old Poindexter. 9 The purchase by Schenley included the rights and trademarks to Old Poindexter, Old Barry, and Belle of Franklin. 3 The Old Poindexter name was transferred to the RD No. 9 at Lebanon, formerly John A. Wathen. 2


Between 1952 and circa 1975, 4 Derby Tank Car and Manufacturing used the facility to repair and clean railroad tank cars that carried chemicals, employing 85 people. 1 The facility was an environmental disaster, as a large pit had cracked and chemicals dumped into the ground. Two nearby wells were found to have petroleum products and ammonia in them in 1976.

In March 1975, Jack DaVania, along with two other Louisville investors, purchased the abandoned Old Poindexter Distillery for $100,000. 10 The trio sold 46 acres of the distillery land to recover half of their investment and began taking the barrel houses apart. A liquidation auction of the former distillery held on June 14, 1975, 6 included:

  • 350,000 board feet of seasoned red oak and yellow pine
  • 15 used electric motors
  • Various steam and gasoline-powered pumps
  • Grain roller and cracking mill
  • Steel hopper scales
  • Exhaust fans
  • One 10-foot × 18-foot steel vertical tank
  • Two 8-foot × 10-foot vertical steel tanks
  • Four 1,000 gallon tanks with steam jackets
  • Two 500-gallon tanks with linings
  • Four cypress tanks with steel hoops
  • One barrel of linseed oil
  • 10,000 machine bolts
  • Flat and V-style pulleys
  • Antique brass oilers



  1. Detjen, Jim and Jim Adams. “The region’s waste makers: Who, what and wehre.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 26 Nov. 1979. p. A1, A6.
  2. Cecil, Sam K. “Meade County.” The Evolution of the Bourbon Industry in Kentucky, Paducah, Turner, 1999, p. 114.
  3. Bourbonv. “Schenley History Time Line.”, 13 July 2005. Post.
  4. Philip. “Schenley History Time Line.”, 25 Jan. 2007. Post.
  5. “Ekron Distillery Granted Charter.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 28 Jun. 1934. p. 5.
  6. Liquidation Auction. Courier-Journal [Louisville], 8 June 1975, p. F19. Advertisement.
  7. “Bought a Distillery.” Breckenridge News [Cloverport], 4 Jul. 1900. p. 1.
  8. “Charters Granted.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 7 Apr. 1944. p. 3-2.
  9. “Schenley Buys Old Poindexter Plant at Ekron.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 22 Nov. 1948. p. 2-1.
  10. Filiatreau, John. “Salvaging a deal.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 20 Mar. 1975. p. C1.
  11. “Local Brevities.” Breckenridge News [Cloverport], 1 Nov. 1893. p. 5.
  12. “Brandenburg.” Breckenridge News [Cloverport], 3 Sept. 1890. p. 2.
  13. At Auction. Courier-Journal [Louisville], 21 Oct. 1948, p. 2-12. Advertisement.
  14. “New Warehouse.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 29 Mar. 1936. p. 5-7.
  15. “Trustee’s Notice of Sale.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 26 Aug. 1937. p. 2-8.
  16. “Killing at a Distillery.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 1 Nov. 1895. p. 1.
  17. “Old Poindexter Distillery, Inc., Plans to Go Out of Business.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 27 Aug. 1948. p. 2-4.


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Derby tank closed in 1989 I think after the owner Tony Frank was killed in a tractor accident. He purchased the business from Paul the original owner of derby tank. It’s all just a big mess on who owns what people are paying property tax so they can get money if it ever sales so they should also be responsible for cleaning up the property. And I have and still live across from the building hating it everyday. But to the comment of environmental issues not true. You can tell by all things that are growing tress bushes grasses so there must not have been things to kill the environment

My grandfather, Taylor Simmons, was the night watchman there for many years. He and my grandmother lived in the house immediately outside the gate.

I remember them, and the house they lived in! They went to church with us at Ekron Baptist. My dad was the electrician/maintenance man.

It’s factually correct up to the point that no date was listed for Derby Tank Car’s closure. An auction was held of the old distillery. Kindly provide some updates, if you have any.

Your dates are indeed way off. My dad worked for Schenley up until I went off to college in 1970. I don’t remember when Derby Tank Car bought the property, but it was several years after the distillery closed.

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