Back in whiskies 1800s heyday Daviess County was second only to Jefferson County for producing the most whiskey in the state of Kentucky. Today, only one of those distilleries is still producing bourbon and in a nod to its founding the owners of the O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro have announced a return to their whiskey roots. In late 2019 the company acquired the rights to the original distillery name and have gone all in by renaming themselves as the Green River Distilling Company.
The original distillery at this site was founded in 1885 by John W. McCulloch a one-time revenuer turned whiskey maker. The distillery made whiskey until a fire in 1918 burned the entire operation to the ground including 43,000 barrels of whiskey. With the onset of Prohibition the distillery was not rebuilt until 1930s. Over the following years the distillery had multiple owners and eventually shut down again until its revival began in 2014 by parent company Terressentia Corp. of South Carolina. The distillery began making whiskey again in 2016.
In 2019 Simon Burch, CEO of Terressentia announced they had acquired the rights to the Green River Distilling Co. brand from Rob McCulloch, the great-grandson of J.W. McCulloch. Today, the distillery name comes full circle with a return to its roots.
“I’ve always wanted the distillery’s name back at its original location in Owensboro,” said Rob McCulloch. “It completes the story my great-grandfather started in 1885.”
“Today’s announcement honors the distillery’s proud heritage in Owensboro and the beginning of its next chapter,” said Burch. “We’re so grateful to Rob for sharing his family’s legacy with us and it’s a privilege to continue to build on the legacy that John McCulloch created. It’s particularly exciting to make this announcement during September, which is National Bourbon Heritage Month.”
“Green River was known for making some of the finest whiskey in Kentucky. We’re excited to be crafting bourbon and rye under the Green River flag again,” said Jacob Call, Master Distiller of Green River Distilling Co. “As a third-generation distiller and seventh-generation Kentuckian, playing a role in reviving this historic distillery has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
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In a conversation with Call we asked him if the Green River Distilling Co. brand would include Terresentia’s patented TerrePURE™ finishing step used for younger bourbon after distillation the traditional way. The short answer is ‘no’ Green River Distilling Co. will no longer distill and bottle O.Z. Tyler whiskey and bourbon.
”We recognize that not everyone in whiskey, an industry steeped in tradition and heritage, is interested in technology,” said Call. “But many of our partners and third-party brand owners are happy with the results and taste profile TerrePURE can help achieve, and so are we, as evidenced by the numerous awards our liquids have won.
“With respect to the Green River brand, both our bourbon and rye will be a minimum of four years old at release, so they will not be TerrePURE finished.”
A limited release of Green River 4 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon will be available in 2021.
Update: The company is all in on the new name. In addition to the name change for the distillery the parent company Terressentia Corp. is changing and will now be known as Green River Spirits Company.
Green River Distilling Co. is the Western most spot on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and welcomes visitors from around the world. It’s the fourth largest independent bourbon distillery in the United States. The distillery produces 90,000 barrels of bourbon and rye a year about 2.7 million bottles, for bulk, private brand and private label partners.