Old Louis Hunter Distillery

The Old Louis Hunter Distillery in Harrison County, Kentucky closed in 1974. After 40 years of abandonment, it’s still wonderfully intact.

Years ago, I came across the Old Louis Hunter Distillery in central Kentucky, but owing to the weather at the time, I did not venture out of the car to take a closer glance at the abandoned industrial building. I moved to Cincinnati shortly thereafter and forgot about the distilling relic for several years.

Several weekends ago, I rediscovered the old distillery, once part of the Old Lewis Hunter Distillery that operated from 1850 until 1974.


The first instance of a distillery at Lair came around 1850 when T.J. Megibben constructed the Megibben & Bramble Distillery and sold bourbon under the “Excelsior” brand. It went under ownership changes and the introduction of some new brands – including “Old Louis Hunter,” before being acquired by Seagrams in 1942.

The plant closed twice in its history: during Prohibition and from 1947 until 1958. After a decline in bourbon sales – part of a nationwide trend, Old Louis Hunter closed for good in 1974.


Historic Photos and Today

I stumbled upon historical photographs from Lafayette Studios, produced in the 1930’s when Old Louis Hunter was in full production.

1935 and Today

1938 and Today

1938 and Today

Cookers; 1935 and Today

Discover more about the Old Louis Hunter Distillery »

12 Comments

  1. Just rediscovered a half pint bottle of Old Lewis Hunter that came from my Dad. Based on “distilled since 1861” on the back label and “for the past 77 years” on the front label, I think it is from 1938. Never opened.
    There does seem to be a way to post pictures

  2. I recently found an old photograph of this distillery. There are a group of men standing outside, presumably most are management as they are dressed rather formally. My grandfather, Guy Beam is in the picture. He was, I believe the Master Distiller. He held this position in a few distilleries in Central Kentucky, including MC Beam and Company in Gethsemane, KU which was owned by his father, Minor Case Beam. We did not realize he had worked here.

    1. My grandparents lived directly across the street from the distillery and ran a general store. At noon, when the whistle blew, the workers would buy sandwiches” moon pies”, and RC colas. Trying to locate a photo of their house- probably in the’50’s or’60’s. Could you share the photo if it shows a house?

  3. I am excited to find this site. My father worked at the Old Louis Hunter Distillery when I was born. I was born in Cynthiana in 1968. Birn and raise there I knew my father worked in a distillery but never knew the name of it. I went there many times but I was too young to remeber. Thank you for bringing back some memories of my father. He passed away in 2006. I will charish thia infomation and share it with my children. Thank u and god bless.

    1. Lolita,

      My Grandfather was a partner in this distillery with his brother.

      They also owned the Merchants Distillery in Terre Haute, Ind.

  4. Due to lucky circumstances I got 3 bottles of Old Louis Hunter Bourbon, and I can tell you, that this more than 40 years old golden liquid is the best bourbon whisky I ever had.

    1. As I mentioned in a post on this site my Grandfather was a partner in this distillery with his brother.
      They also owned Merchants distillery in Terra Haute, Ind.
      When you are finished with that bottle of Old Louis Hunter Bourbon I would love to have the empty.

  5. Just in case you did not receive my email, I saw your posting on this site and I was wondering if it was totally
    abandoned. In other words, does it have an owner and who would I have to contact to get onsite..
    Thank You,
    -Alexander D

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