Nearly a quarter century after ending distilling operations an Owensboro, Kentucky a distillery is once again shipping Kentucky Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys.
The Charles W. Medley Distillery stopped production in 1993 and had been slowly falling into disrepair. That all changed in 2014 when Terresentia, a South Carolina company purchased the property and started investing more than $25 million to restore whiskey making operations at the site. The distillery includes 26 acres with six barrel warehouses and a 41′ tall x 54″ wide column still with a capacity to generate 5 million proof gallons of spirits a year or approximately 72,000 barrels.
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In July 2015 the new owners officially broke ground on the re-birth of the distillery and renamed it the O.Z. Tyler Distillery to honor one of Terresentia’s founders, Orville Zelotes “Ty” Tyler III. Tyler who unfortunately passed away in 2014 and didn’t get to see this day, was a chemist, inventor, visionary and entrepreneur. Ty invented many things throughout his life including the patented coating that made it possible to put soft drinks in aluminum cans; indoor-outdoor carpeting; washable wallpaper and outdoor latex paint. Ty’s crowning achievement when it comes to the distilled spirits world is his invention of his patented TerrePURE system, an all-natural filtering process for distilled spirts.
A Year and a Day Later, O.Z. Tyler Distillery Has its 1st Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
And now, as the shirt in the photo says, “Bourbon is Back in Owensboro!” Kentucky state law says that in order for a whiskey to be called Kentucky Bourbon it must meet all the federal TTB requirements for bourbon and it has to be “aged in oak barrels for a period of not less than one (1) full year,” in Kentucky. (You can read more about it here) The new O.Z. Tyler Bourbon meets both the TTB requirement and the Kentucky requirement to be labeled a Kentucky Bourbon.
O.Z. Tyler Distillery’s whiskey starts out like most traditional bourbons. It’s made with a mashbill of 70% corn, 21% rye and 9% malted barley. Their rye whiskey mashbill is made up of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. After distillation the new make whiskey is aged in 53 gallon new oak barrels with a #4 char then it’s aged for a year and a day. All requirements for Kentucky Bourbon have been met and it’s time for one additional step.
Watch the video to hear remarks from O.Z. Tyler and Terresentia CEO Earl Hewlette, Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson, Daviess County Judge Executive Al Mattingly, Kentucky Distillers’ Associations Director of Member and Public Affairs Colleen Thomas, and O.Z. Tyler Master Distiller Jacob Call.
Final Step – 8 Hours in the TerrePURE Process
The final step for O.Z. Tyler bourbon and rye is eight hours traveling through Terresentia’s patented TerrePURE rapid aging process. The company says the process “removes harsh impurities leaving only a smooth liquid with a great mouth-feel that tastes comparable to other fine bourbons.” Before bottling, the year old bourbon is pumped into the bottom of the TerrePURE stainless steel and glass machines. They look somewhat like a futuristic fish tank but much cooler. From there, the bourbon flows up into the tank and goes on an eight hour top secret journey. As it goes through the system the liquid makes contact with a set of oak staves and is treated with a combination of ultrasonic energy, oxygen and a temperature changes. As you look inside the steel and glass tanks you can see tiny Champagne like bubbles moving inside the tanks that are caused by the ultrasonic vibrations. The process works by removing harsh-tasting impurities (congeners) present in all spirits. When the process is completed it chemically changes the nature of the liquid to mimic what would normally occur through the bourbon passing in and out of an oak barrel over many seasons. The process cuts years of the aging process and greatly reduces the volume of liquid that is normally lost to evaporation.
According to Earl Hewlette, CEO of the O.Z, Tyler Distillery and parent company, Terressentia Corporation, the TerrePURE technology is meant to speed up and improve the aging process. “Waiting for spirits to age can be costly. Thanks to this technology we can get liquids from the barrel to market much quicker, which means more product and much less loss to the angel’s share,” he said. “We are not trying to compete with extensively aged whiskies, rather O.Z. Tyler Bourbon Whiskey is a smooth, delicious and affordable option that rivals many of the bourbons being produced today.”
The final step is the journey is bottling and labeling. And as Hewlette explained, “Our bottling line isn’t here yet so please if you see a crooked label, no comments.” I think that’s what you call “hand crafted,” in today’s spirits world.
O.Z. Tyler Distilleries first Kentucky Bourbon and Rye whiskies are now available at the distillery and throughout the state. A 750 ml bottle of O.Z. Tyler Kentucky Bourbon or Rye Whiskey will be sold for under $23. The O.Z. Tyler Distillery is open for tours Monday through Saturday and is expected to be a part of the states famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail in the summer of 2018.
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