Welcome to Castle & Key, where history and innovation collide in the heart of Kentucky’s bourbon country. Step back in time as we explore the rich distilling heritage of this iconic property, once home to one of the most renowned whiskey brands in America. Join us on a journey through time as we uncover the secrets behind Castle & Key’s revival and its mission to preserve Kentucky’s distilling history for generations to come. Get ready to raise a glass and toast to tradition, taste, and timeless craftsmanship at Castle & Key.

Introduction to Kentucky’s Distilling History

Kentucky is known as the birthplace of bourbon, and for good reason. The state has a rich history in distilling that dates back over 200 years. In fact, it is estimated that at one point in the 19th century, Kentucky was home to around 2,000 distilleries.

The beginnings of Kentucky’s distilling history can be traced back to the late 1700s when settlers began experimenting with corn-based spirits. At this time, whiskey was seen as a way to preserve excess grain and provide an additional source of income for farmers. As production increased and demand grew, distillers started using different grains such as rye and barley to create unique blends.

In the early 1800s, steamboat transportation became more prevalent which allowed for easier distribution of Kentucky’s distilled spirits beyond its borders. This led to an increase in popularity and profitability for the state’s distilleries.

One of the most influential figures in Kentucky’s distilling history is Evan Williams who opened his first commercial distillery in Louisville in 1783. He is often credited as being the first commercial bourbon producer and was instrumental in establishing Kentucky’s reputation for producing high-quality whiskey.

In addition to Evan Williams’ contributions, another key factor in Kentucky’s rise as a leading producer of bourbon was its natural resources. The state boasts abundant limestone water sources which are essential for making good quality whiskey. Limestone acts as a natural filter, removing impurities from the water and giving it a high mineral content that adds unique flavors to the final product.

During Prohibition (1920-1933), all legal alcohol production came to a halt in the United States including bourbon production in Kentucky. However, many Kentuckians continued making moonshine illegally during this time which helped keep their knowledge and skills alive until Prohibition ended.

After Prohibition was repealed, some distilleries reopened while others never recovered. The industry faced further challenges during World War II when resources such as corn and barley were diverted to the war effort. However, after the war, bourbon’s popularity grew once again, and Kentucky’s distilling industry began to flourish.

Today, Kentucky is home to over 70% of the world’s bourbon production with well-known brands such as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve calling the state their home. The rich history of Kentucky’s distilling industry continues to thrive with new innovations and techniques while still holding onto traditional methods that have been passed down for generations. In our next section, we will explore how Castle & Key Distillery is playing a role in preserving this heritage while also bringing a modern twist to Kentucky’s distilling legacy.

History of Castle & Key Distillery

The history of Castle & Key Distillery dates back to the 19th century, when it was first established as the Old Taylor Distillery in 1887 by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr. Known as the “father of modern bourbon,” Taylor was a prominent figure in Kentucky’s distilling industry and played a significant role in shaping its history.

Under Taylor’s ownership, the Old Taylor Distillery quickly became one of the largest and most technologically advanced distilleries in the world. It featured state-of-the-art equipment, such as copper pot stills and steam heating, which allowed for higher quality and more efficient production of bourbon.

However, like many other distilleries during Prohibition, the Old Taylor Distillery was forced to shut down its operations in 1919. It remained inactive until 1933 when it was acquired by National Distillers Products Company. During this time, the distillery continued to produce whiskey but at a much smaller scale.

In 1972, United Distillers bought the property from National Distillers but closed it down just four years later due to declining sales. The once-thriving distillery fell into disrepair and remained abandoned for over two decades.

In 2014, entrepreneur Will Arvin purchased the property with a vision to revive it and restore its legacy. He teamed up with master distiller Marianne Eaves and began extensive renovations on both the historic buildings and grounds.

The restoration process aimed to preserve as much of the original structures as possible while also incorporating modern technology for sustainability practices. The iconic castle-like limestone buildings were restored using traditional methods with an emphasis on maintaining their historical integrity.

After four years of meticulous restoration work, Castle & Key opened its doors to visitors in September 2018. Today, tourists can take guided tours of the grounds, learn about Kentucky’s rich distilling history, and taste Castle & Key’s handcrafted spirits.

In addition to its historical significance, Castle & Key is also making a mark in the modern bourbon industry. The distillery uses locally-sourced grains and traditional methods of production, resulting in high-quality spirits that pay homage to Colonel Taylor’s legacy.

Castle & Key Distillery has truly revived Kentucky’s distilling history and continues to be a prominent player in the state’s booming bourbon industry. With its rich past and promising future, it is no surprise that Castle & Key has become a must-visit destination for both whiskey enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Tour and Tasting Experience at Castle & Key

At Castle & Key, visitors are not only able to witness the revival of Kentucky’s distilling history, but also indulge in a unique tour and tasting experience. The picturesque property, with its sprawling gardens and historic buildings, sets the perfect backdrop for a memorable visit.

The tour begins at the Visitor Center, where guests are greeted by friendly staff who provide an overview of the distillery’s rich heritage and current operations. From there, visitors are taken on a scenic walk through the stunning gardens filled with fragrant herbs and botanicals that are used in Castle & Key’s spirits. This immersive experience allows guests to fully appreciate the natural ingredients that go into each bottle.

Next up is a guided tour of the distillery itself, where visitors can witness first-hand how Castle & Key crafts their award-winning bourbon and gin. The knowledgeable guides explain each step of the process – from milling and mashing to fermentation and distillation – providing insight into what makes their spirits stand out from others in the market.

One of the highlights of the tour is getting up close and personal with “Old Taylor,” Castle & Key’s magnificent 83-foot-tall copper still. This iconic landmark was originally installed in 1887 by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr., one of Kentucky’s most renowned bourbon makers. After being dormant for decades, it has been meticulously restored and put back into operation at Castle & Key, making it one of very few old-style pot stills still in use today.

After exploring every nook and cranny of the distillery, guests get to relax in one of two charming tasting rooms: The Bottling House or The Sunken Garden Pavilion. Here they have a chance to sample Castle & Key’s range of spirits while enjoying sweeping views of their serene surroundings.

But what truly sets Castle & Key apart is their commitment to sustainability. Every aspect of their production process has been thoughtfully designed to minimize waste and environmental impact. From using renewable energy and repurposing rainwater to composting spent grains, they are dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of their property and surrounding community.

A tour and tasting experience at Castle & Key is not only a journey through Kentucky’s distilling history, but also an opportunity to appreciate the artistry and innovation that goes into producing world-class spirits. So come visit, savor some delicious drinks, and leave with a newfound appreciation for the rich tradition of distilling in the Bluegrass State.

Behind the Scenes: Distilling Process at Castle & Key

The distilling process at Castle & Key, one of Kentucky’s oldest and most iconic distilleries, is a modern-day interpretation of traditional methods. Led by Master Distiller Marianne Eaves, the team at Castle & Key continues to honor the rich history and heritage of Kentucky’s bourbon industry while also incorporating innovative techniques.

The first step in creating their award-winning spirits is sourcing the finest ingredients. At Castle & Key, they only use locally grown grains that are carefully selected for their quality and flavor profiles. This includes corn, rye, barley, and wheat – all vital components in producing high-quality bourbon.

Once the grains have been sourced and delivered to the distillery, they are then ground into a fine powder. This process allows for better extraction of flavors during fermentation. The milled grains are then mixed with water from the nearby limestone-filtered Glenns Creek before being cooked to create what is known as “the mash.”

After cooking, yeast is added to the mash which initiates fermentation – a crucial step in creating bourbon. During this process, natural sugars are converted into alcohol over several days until a desired level of alcohol content is reached.

Next comes distillation – a method used to separate alcohol from other substances present in the fermented mash. At Castle & Key, they use two copper-pot stills on-site: Mary Jane and Old Taylor. These stills not only add character to their spirits but also play an integral role in producing high-quality bourbon.

Once distilled, the clear liquid known as “white dog” is then placed into new charred oak barrels for maturation. The barrels used at Castle & Key come from seasoned coopers who hand-select them based on their unique wood grains and aromas.

During maturation, the whiskey takes on color and flavor from the charred oak barrels through a process known as “breathing.” The whiskey expands into the wood during hot summer months before contracting during colder months, allowing for the infusion of flavors from the wood. This process can take anywhere from a few years to over a decade, depending on the desired flavor profile.

Once the whiskey has matured, it is then bottled and labeled with care before being distributed to consumers around the world. The result is an exceptional bourbon that honors Kentucky’s rich distilling history while also pushing boundaries with innovative techniques.

The behind-the-scenes distilling process at Castle & Key is a labor of love, where every step is carefully monitored and executed to create one-of-a-kind spirits. From sourcing local ingredients to aging in hand-selected barrels, Castle & Key continues to revive and celebrate Kentucky’s distilling heritage through their outstanding products.

 

 


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