Old Taylor Distillery, a defunct distillery located south of Frankfort, Kentucky, was constructed by E.H. Taylor, Jr. in 1887. Old Taylor Distillery was known for a fine, quality product that was the first to produce one million cases of straight bourbon whiskey.

Taylor, involved in financial and political interests for the commonwealth, was politically well connected. A descendant of James Madison and Zachary Taylor, two U.S. presidents, and as a result of this, Taylor served as mayor of Frankfort for 16 years and also as a state representative and senator.

Taylor was essentially responsible for revitalizing the liquor industry that had little to no confidence from consumers due to product quality, passing laws that would ensure quality, such as the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. The Act was a federal subsidy via a tax abatement for products produced under particular government standards.

When the Old Taylor Distillery was constructed, it was considered a showcase of bourbon production. The sprawling complex included a peristyle spring house, sunken gardens and gazebos where guests and politicians were entertained. The main office and plant was constructed entirely of Tyrone, Kentucky limestone. Visitors arrived on the “Riney-B,” or the Richmond, Nicholasville, Irvine & Beattyville Railroad, where they would be given a tour of the facility.

Old Taylor was the first distillery to reach one million U.S. Government certified cases of straight bourbon whiskey. Times were great, to the extent that National Distilleries purchased Old Taylor Distillery in 1935. National Distilleries operated the plant for many years before it passed to the Jim Bean Corporation. In 1972, during a downturn in bourbon consumption, Jim Bean idled the plant, although it continued to store and agebourbon whiskey in the warehouses until 1994 when the space was declared surplus.

Various proposals were floated to revitalize the distillery complex. Cecil Withrow, a former employee of National Distilleries, along with Robert Sims, his business partner, purchased the property and incorporated Stone Castle Properties. Renovations began in 1996 and in 1997, an art and craft mall opened in the former bottling house. Withrow planned on including a natural spring bottling operation and a whiskey distilling business by 1999, but those plans never came to fruition.

In May of 2005, the property was sold to Scott Brady, who had completing selective demolition of several warehouses that were in various stages of collapse or decay. Wood and other materials salvaged from several warehouses were being marketed under Heart Pine Reserve.

The photographs presented are the first published photographs of the interior since the facility ceased operations in 1972. Explore Old Taylor Distillery and see for yourself »