Castle & Key Distillery – Castle & Key Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

It’s hard to understand when you visit Castle & Key Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, today that for many years whenever talk of the ‘Old Taylor Distillery’ came up with other distillers looking to start a distillery they would often say, “I looked at that property. It just needed too much work.” I’ve heard versions of this tale many times over the years. The Old Taylor Distillery was a stray distillery looking for the right owner.

Then in 2014, I don’t know if you would say the distillery found new owners or the new owners found an old distillery but, it was that year that Will Arvin and Wes Murry, two friends from nearby Lexington, purchased the property and buildings. What they acquired was a distillery built in 1887 by Col. E.H. Taylor, the man often referred to as the Father of Modern Bourbon and one of the chief architects of the 1897 Bottled-in-Bond Act.

The historic distillery shut down in 1972 when brown spirits fell out of favor and clear spirits like vodka took over. The property and all its buildings were left for dead. It was even sold for scrap at one point. Thankfully, the crashing of the economy in 2008 saved it from salvage as it continued to decay and the weeds began to take over until these two hardy souls took over and began the multi-million dollar, multi-year renovation project that is now a shining jewel on the world famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Four years after purchasing the 113 acre property and its buildings Arvin and Murry finally opened the doors to the public in 2018. They had been making bourbon and rye whiskey behind the scenes for quite some time before officially opening to the public. Now, half a century after this historic distillery was mothballed and nearly consumed by mother nature, they are ready to release their first Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a bourbon made using the same fermentation tanks that were used 50+ years ago.

Drag the arrows below left or right to compare today’s Castle & Key Distillery to the original Old Taylor Distillery.

Castle & Key Distillery - The Old Taylor Distillery, Front View 2020
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Castle & Key Distillery - Old Taylor Distillery Postcard
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Castle & Key Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

From the beginning, Castle & Key Distillery has been committed to creating premium spirits while respecting the heritage and history of the distillery. They made the decision to make all their spirits from scratch, no sourcing, knowing that their first bourbon would not be ready for at least four years. This is the first proprietary bourbon to be distilled and released by Castle & Key under their own brand from the restored grounds of the historic Old Taylor Distillery.

Castle & Key Small Batch Bourbon will be released in two consecutive batches this Spring. Their product strategy focuses on creating spirits with the consistency of high quality, rather than the consistency of flavor. Unlike many distilleries that pride themselves in making every bottle taste the same, Arvin and Murry readily admit that no Castle & Key Small Batch Bourbon will ever taste exactly the same. For those that understand software terms ‘it’s not a bug, it’s a feature’.

Castle & Key Small Batch Bourbon Mash Bill & Tasting Notes

Castle & Key uses a three-grain mash recipe that features 73% white corn, 10% rye and 17% malted barley. Here are the tasting notes provided by the distillery.

Castle & Key 2022 Batch 1

Aroma – Honey, Golden Raisin, Brown Butter, Orange Blossom, Baked Nutmeg, and Stone Fruit
Taste – Toffee, Bread Dough, Dates, Baking Spice, and Toasted Almonds
Finish – Cinnamon and Allspice
No. Barrels – 80
Age – 4
Proof – 49% (98% ABV)

Castle & Key 2022 Batch 2

Aroma – Rye Bread, Dry Cinnamon, Pine Resin, Red Apple Peel, and Barn Wood
Taste – Burnt Sugar, Dried Fig, Cracked Pepper, and Cherry Wood
Finish – Charred Oak and Molasses
No. Barrels – 80
Age – 4 years
Proof – 49.5% (99% ABV)

Castle & Key Small Batch Bourbon 2022 Batch 1 has a suggested retail price of $55.00 plus tax. It will be available at the distillery beginning Saturday, March 26th, 2022 at 9am. No reservations will be required for purchase. 

Castle & Key Small Batch Bourbon 2022 Batch 1 will become available in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin starting in April.

Direct-to-Consumer shipping of Castle & Key spirits is available for a handful of markets and military bases including Alaska, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Washington D.C.

The Origin of the Castle & Key Distillery Name

The Castle part is obvious but, the Key? It turns out the water well that is covered by the original spring-house, is shaped like a key. It seems Colonel Taylor said the water was the “Key to the bourbon.”

Related Story
Castle & Key Distillery Celebrates the Grand Opening of its $30 Million, 3 Million Proof Gallon, Distillery Destination [Video]

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