“What a long strange trip it’s been!” Back in May of 2014 investors Will Arvin and Wes Murry purchased the Old Taylor Distillery in Millville, Kentucky for $950,000. Unbeknownst to them that was just the tip of the iceberg. The plan was to clean up the property that had been severely overrun by the ravages of time and neglect to renovate the grounds and buildings to start a craft distillery. The original decaying distillery and tourist destination (the first of its kind in the U.S.) was built more than a century ago by Col. E.H. Taylor in 1887, a man often referred to as the Father of Modern Bourbon. You can learn more about the history of the Old Taylor Distillery here.
Taylor’s distillery eventually shut down with the onset of Prohibition, reopened with new owners in 1935 and eventually shut down and was left for dead in 1972. Over the years the property fell into disrepair and much of its valuable heartwood found in many of the rickhouses was sold for scrap.
Arvin’s and Murry’s plans took on a life of their own. Their original plan to start a craft spirit distillery turned into a full blown distillery with side-by-side Vendome Copper & Brass Works copper column stills making spirits for themselves under the Castle & Key Distillery brand as well as offering distillation services and barrel storage for others.
Other than purchasing the property the other monumental move they made was to hire Marianne Eaves away from Brown-Forman to become Castle & Key Distillery’s and Kentucky’s first female Master Distiller. A few years later Eaves eventually left the distillery she was instrumental in getting off the ground. The spirits she made years ago are now finally ready to hit the market.
Drag the arrows below left or right to compare today’s Castle & Key Distillery to the original Old Taylor Distillery.
Castle & Key RESTORATION Rye Whiskey (Plus a Gin & Vodka)
Castle & Key Distillery has announced the first release of its rye whiskey while its bourbon ages a bit longer. The new Castle & Key RESTORATION Kentucky Rye Whiskey will go on sale at the distillery on Friday, December 4, 2020.
Restoration Kentucky Rye Whiskey pays tribute to the restoration of the historic property originally built over a century ago. Alongside the Restoration Rye, Castle & Key will also release Roots of Ruin Gin and Sacred Spring Vodka.
Because of the pandemic reservations are required to visit the property to pickup bottles purchased in advance from their website. Consumers are able to reserve up to six bottles with batches subject to availability. We understand the website is busy catching up with demand but as you can see below there are 25,740 bottles available so they should make it through the first day just fine after that, good luck.
“We are more than excited to release our Restoration Rye, a spirit that is thoughtful in every detail, from grain to glass, and is a true representation of the team’s hard work and attention to detail over the past five years,” says Castle & Key Quality Manager Jon Brown.
Castle & Key gin and vodka have been out for a couple of years now. With the launch of their first rye whiskey the distillery has hired a new creative agency to update their bottle designs to introduce Restoration Rye, Sacred Spring Vodka and Roots of Ruin Gin.
“We partnered with Stranger & Stranger to make our vision come to life and we couldn’t be more excited about the new look,” says Co-Founder Wes Murry. “The new bottle designs honor the history of our property, those who helped restore the property to its former glory, and the imaginative team that crafted our spirits.”
4 Years in the Making Restoration Rye Release Starts with 2 Batches
Restoration Rye, a name that speaks to the restoration of property, will be released in two batches. Castle & Key’s strategy focuses on creating spirits with consistency of high quality, rather than consistency of flavor. No whiskey release from Castle & Key will ever taste exactly the same.
The 2020 Restoration Rye release features two batches, both with unique flavor profiles. Batch #1 is created from a blend of 60 barrels, and Batch #2 is comprised of 57 barrels. During the blending process, barrels are grouped into pods with specific sensory profiles. Those pods are then blended together to achieve the unique, high quality flavor profiles.
Restoration Rye Release Specs and Tasting Notes
These notes were provided by the distillery.
Restoration Rye Batch #1
- Mashbill: 63% Rye, 17% Yellow Corn, 20% Malted Barley
- Aroma: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon Toast, Dried Figs, Pipe Tobacco, Baking Chocolate, Orange Peel
- Taste: Sweet Baking Spice, Cinnamon Roll, Caramelized Sugar, Dried Currants, and Lightly Roasted Almonds
- Finish: Sweet with light hints of maple syrup and dark honey
- Proof: 103° (51.5% ABV)
- No. of Bottles: 13,200
- Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Restoration Rye Batch #2
- Mashbill: 63% Rye, 17% Yellow Corn, 20% Malted Barley
- Aroma: Bright, Lemon Peel, Toasted Oak, Apricot, Wild Flower, Honey, Graham Cracker
- Taste: Pie Crust, Honeysuckle, Mint, Agave Nectar, Dry Cinnamon, Light Stone Fruit
- Finish: Cooling, Camphoraceous with light mouth numbing
- Proof: 99° (49.5% ABV)
- of Bottles: 12,540
- Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Castle & Key Roots of Ruin Gin
A spirit that speaks to the restoration of the property from its ruinous state, Roots of Ruin Gin represents the overgrowth of botanicals used in the recipe. A classic spirit, reimagined to delight, Castle & Key gin begins with their rye whiskey base that is distilled into vodka. The vodka distillate is then infused with juniper and a thoughtful selection of seven native herbs and botanicals. The result is a distinct, complex, and heavily aromatic flavor profile offering bright and floral and soft pine scents and balanced notes of citrus and lemon verbena, followed by spicy ginger and sweet chamomile flower.
- Mashbill: 17% Yellow Corn, 63% Rye, 20% Malted Barley
- Botanicals: Chamomile, Ginger, Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, Licorice Root, Angelica Root, Coriander and Juniper
- Proof: 106° (53% ABV)
- Suggested Retail Price: $32.99 per 750ml bottle
- Aroma: Bright and floral, subtle baking spice, and soft pine.
- Taste: Balanced notes of citrus and lemon verbena, followed by spicy ginger and sweet chamomile flower. Delicately complex with a distinct earthy character including angelica, soft juniper, and rosemary.
- Finish: Smooth, sweet, and creamy with hints of spice.
Castle & Key Sacred Spring Vodka
The cocktail foundation you will want to drink neat. Sacred Spring Vodka is crafted from a whiskey base redistilled to the highest proof and purity to maintain a vibrant character and rich mouthfeel. The aroma offers a light and sweet scent, with hints of cashew and citrus. The taste has clean citrus notes followed by vanilla bean and a hint of buttered toast, while the finish is silky and rich with lingering sweetness.
This vodka begins with the distillery’s traditional bourbon mash bill.
- Mashbill: 73% White Corn, 10% Rye, 17% Malted Barley
- Proof: 80° (40% ABV)
- Suggested Retail Price: $26.99 per 750ml bottle
- Aroma: Light and sweet, with hints of cashew and citrus.
- Taste: Clean citrus notes followed by vanilla bean and a hint of buttered toast.
- Finish: Silky and rich, lingering sweetness.
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Castle & Key Introduces New Bottle and Label Designs
The award-winning design team at Stranger & Stranger created the new look for Castle & Key’s spirits portfolio, which now includes Restoration Rye, Roots of Ruin Gin and Sacred Spring Vodka.
The Restoration Rye label features a representation of the arms and hands of those who helped restore the property and includes small text that features phrases like “flavor profile not to scale” and “instruments finely calibrated,” showcasing the quality of the spirit. The Roots of Ruin Gin label features a turret, which is a replica of the actual Castle turret on site and is a salute to the history of the Castle. And Sacred Spring Vodka, which bears a name that reflects the importance of Castle & Key’s Springhouse as the water source used to create the spirits made on site, showcases this water as liquid gold on the label, which also notes, “made from estate sources water” under the name.
All new Castle & Key Distillery releases will be available for purchase in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Georgia, and Texas beginning in December, 2020.
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.”