For the first time in more than a century, Green River Distilling Co. in Owensboro, Daviess County, Kentucky is returning to its Kentucky Bourbon roots. Back in the late 1800s Daviess County, with more than 20 distilleries, was one of the top counties to produce bourbon in the entire state. Now, the historic DSP-KY-10 is bringing the city’s rich bourbon heritage back to life with the release of Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
The re-kindling of this journey started back in 2014 when Terresentia Corp., now be known as Green River Spirits Company, purchased a run-down distillery in Owensboro. After extensive renovations and the addition of lots of new equipment the distillery restarted operations under the O.Z. Tyler brand. In September 2020 the distillery acquired the rights to Green River Distilling Co. with intentions of returning the distillery and the brand back to its pre-Prohibition days of glory.
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Green River Distilling Co. was founded in 1885 by John W. McCulloch, a man focused on quality and considered a visionary in sales and marketing. McCulloch traveled the world to promote Green River Whiskey, and it quickly became known as some of the finest in Kentucky. Green River won many international awards, including a gold medal and “best of show” at the Paris Exposition in 1900, and later a grand prize at the 1905 Liege Exposition in Belgium. It was also known as “The Whiskey Without Regrets,” one of the most memorable advertising slogans in bourbon.
Today’s Green River bourbon was distilled by Master Distiller Jacob Call, an eighth-generation distiller and Kentuckian. Call’s family distilling history stretches back to the earliest days of bourbon when his ancestor Samuel Call distilled whiskey on his Kentucky farm in the late 1700s.
Jacob learned his craft from his grandfather and father, both of whom spent many years working at Jim Beam (where his father was mentored by legendary Booker Noe) and his father went on to become Master Distiller at Florida Caribbean Distillers, where Jacob joined the team in 2007. Jacob became part of what is now Green River in the fall of 2014 where he oversaw the renovations of the distillery. Now, as master distiller he oversees all aspects of whiskey production and warehousing for the facility.
“For the first time in more than 100 years, Green River bourbon is flowing inside the walls of its original home,” said Green River Distilling Co. Master Distiller Jacob Call.
“As someone with a family connection to the first days of Kentucky bourbon, being a part of the revival of such a legendary whiskey has been the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“Visiting the Green River distillery in Owensboro is like stepping back in time to earlier days of bourbon production in the United States,” said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. “Many bourbon lovers don’t realize that Owensboro and Western Kentucky were among the most important regions for bourbon production in the 1800s. When you’re standing on the Green River campus, you’re standing on hallowed ground.”
Each bottle of today’s Green River bourbon includes the phrase “The Pride of Owensboro” to pay homage to the city and its bourbon legacy.
“I’m proud of our team’s great work bringing Green River back to life in Owensboro after years of dormancy – not only because of what it means to our company, but what it means for this wonderful city,” said Simon Burch, CEO of Green River Distilling Co.
“In its heyday, Green River’s success was intrinsically linked to Owensboro’s proud whiskey making heritage. The revival of the brand will make this true once again, and we plan to sell it far and wide, just like the original Green River.”
Burch worked closely with John’s great-grandson Rob McCulloch to revive the Green River brand. “We’re so grateful to Rob for sharing his family’s history with us, and it’s a privilege to continue to build on the legacy that John McCulloch created,” said Burch.
On the revival, Rob McCulloch said, “I’ve always wanted to see Green River whiskey made at its original location in Owensboro. It completes the story my great-grandfather started in 1885.”
The Launch of Green River Bourbon Includes Iconic New Bottle Design
The new Green River bottle design took cues from the brand’s past, including key icons like horseshoes, rivets, and the original Green River colors. “We worked with local historians and spent time in museums and Owensboro libraries to immerse ourselves in the Green River pre-Prohibition world,” said Cathy Steen, Chief Commercial Officer. “We had a wonderful archive that inspired us to think about how the brand design would have organically evolved for today’s bourbon fans.”
Green River Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey Tasting Notes
Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is 90 proof (45% ABV) and has been aged more than five years at the distillery in Owensboro. It is rich in color with an amber hue and made with all Kentucky-grown corn, most from Daviess County.
Mash Bill for this High Rye Bourbon
- 70% Corn (100% locally sourced in-state)
- 21% Winter Rye
- 9% Malted 2 and 6-Row Barley
Tasting notes provided by the distillery say the higher rye content results in a bourbon with warming spice notes on the nose and palate. Additional aroma notes to look for include cinnamon, dried cherry, and light leather. For taste, it has notes of cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, and chocolate mint. The finish is rich, thick, and lingering.
Charity Auction in Support of Western Kentucky Tornado Relief
At the brand’s launch event on February 10, 2022, an auction will be held to raise money for those affected by the devastating tornadoes in Western Kentucky. World-renowned artist Aaron Kizer, the distillery’s artistic director, has hand-painted 10 barrels filled with Green River bourbon for auction.
Distribution Starts in February 2022
Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has a suggested retail price of $34.99. It will be available for purchase at the Green River Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky, beginning at 10 am CST on Friday, February 11, 2022. The distillery will be open that day with a celebration of Bluegrass, BBQ, and Bourbon until 6 pm CST. In the coming months, Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will also be rolling out to select retailers in Kentucky in February and soon in Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, and Northwest Florida.