Morning Light on Ruins: The Abandoned Old Lewis Hunter Distillery

The Old Louis Hunter Distillery, established in 1850 as Megibben & Bramble and renowned for its Excelsior bourbon, experienced a tumultuous history of closures and re-openings due to Prohibition, wartime production changes, and economic challenges,

The Old Louis Hunter Distillery in Central Kentucky, once a bustling hub of bourbon production, traces its origins to 1850 when T. J. Megibben founded the Megibben & Bramble Distillery. The distillery, which marketed its bourbon under the Excelsior brand, was later renamed in 1902. Its operation was interrupted by the enactment of Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, which led to its closure. It managed to reopen in 1935, producing brands like Old Kaintuck, Old Hood, and Old Arab.

However, the distillery faced instability, closing in 1939, reopening in 1940, and then being taken over by Seagrams in 1942 to aid the war effort by producing high-proof alcohol. Post-war grain shortages led to another temporary closure. The distillery resumed production in 1958, only to shut down permanently in 1973.

In 1980, there was consideration of repurposing the site for gasohol production—an ethanol and unleaded gasoline blend promising 3% to 5% better mileage and superior performance due to its high octane level—but these plans were never realized.


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If this place is truly going to be rising from the ashes at some point, I’d be interested in speaking with the new owners.

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