Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes Castle & Key Distillery in Millville, Kentucky is rising from the ruins of what was once the Old Taylor Distillery. The distilleries founder, Colonel E.H. Taylor was a man ahead of his time. Col. Taylor, a “Master of Hospitality” built the Old Taylor Distillery back in 1887 with eye toward tourism. While most distilleries of that era were built with one purpose in mind, to be a Distilled Spirits Plant, he had other ideas. He had his own field of dreams, a dream that lead him to the outskirts of the state’s capital of Frankfort to the small town of Millville. That’s where Col. Taylor built what was the first distillery in the United States that was designed from the bottom of the moat with running water to the top of the turrets as a tourist destination complete with a European-inspired castle, peristyle springhouse and sunken gardens.
Col. Taylor passed away just before Prohibition and with the exception of about half a dozen distilleries of the time, shut down during that dark period in American history. Soon after the 21st Amendment passed National Distillers purchased the property and started distilling again in 1935. Over the years, the distillery changed hands a few times and as brown spirits popularity slowed, the site was mothballed in 1972 and was left to rot. You can read more about the history of the Old Taylor Distillery here.
Finally, in May of 2014 as shortages of brown spirits started to make headlines, distilled spirits industry outsiders Will Arvin and Wes Murry purchased the property. After deciding they didn’t know too much about distillation they were in search of a Master Distiller. They reached out to Marianne Eaves, Master Taster at Brown-Forman. Before long, the three had partnered up and the journey began. Fast forward nearly four and half years later and the trio along with their other business partner Brook Smith are about to open the distillery to the public with a truely immersive customer experience for the first time since before Prohibition.
5 Questions with Wes, Will and Marianne
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Co-Founders Wes Murry and Will Arvin along with Master Distiller Marianne Eaves. Partner Brook Smith was out of town on the day I visited. Wes, Will and Marianne were very gracious to take the time to answer questions just one week ahead of their official opening of the distillery to the public on Wednesday, September 19, 2018.
I sat down with each of them one on one and asked the following questions.
If you opened the doors tomorrow and Col. Taylor was standing there, what do you think he would say about what you’ve accomplished here?
If you could ask Col. Taylor one question, what would that be?
After four years of renovations, what’s the one thing you found that gave you goose bumps?
This place is over 100 years old. Any ghost sightings?
If you had it to do all over, would you do it again?
Watch the video and you’ll hear the love and passion in their hearts. Keep in mind, this is an active distillery so don’t be surprised as you hear motors, pumps and bottles clanking in the background. Or maybe it’s the ghosts.
Now get out on the trail and visit the only distillery in the United States with its own castle. Cheers!
The Long Wait is Over – Castle & Key Distillery Sets Date to Open its Doors to Public
Castle & Key Distillery Rising from Ruins After Old Taylor Distillery Narrowly Escaped Wrecking Ball
Castle & Key Distillery: A Behind the Scenes Tour of this 129 Year Old Startup
Marianne Barnes, master distiller to bring former Old Taylor Distillery back to life [Photos]