Refurbished Old Crow Distillery hopes to be in operation by fall, owners say

jpatton1@herald-leader.comJune 14, 2014 

MILLVILLE — Just around the curve of Glenn's Creek from Old Taylor is another mothballed distillery that is slowly coming back to life.

The Old Crow Distillery was purchased in mid-December by Neil Craig and Dave Meier of Deviant Distillers with plans to make bourbon, rye, moonshine and rum.

Like its neighbor, the distillery at Old Crow has been shuttered for decades, but some warehouses remained in use until the mid-1990s.

Craig said they are waiting for their custom-built steam-jacketed copper pot still from the experimental Lost Spirits Distillery in California. Deviant has already received its federal permit, and Craig and Meier say they hope to be in operations by fall.

Their gift shop on the grounds will be open this summer although they don't yet have much beyond T-shirts and hats to sell.

In the meantime, they are repairing buildings and cleaning up with the idea of eventually setting a music venue and restaurant on the site overlooking the creek.

"It will be at least a year before we can get the venue up in the back," Craig said. "We want to bring people down into that valley."

The Glenn's Creek valley was once a veritable bourbon industrial complex, with distilleries lining it all the way to Frankfort.

What came to be known as the Old Crow Distillery was founded in 1835, according to a stone block atop the limestone building that once held boilers and a still. But that particular building wasn't actually built until the late 1880s.

While Old Crow was once one of the most popular brands of bourbon, its popularity declined precipitously with the movement away from bourbon after the 1950s.

National Distillers owned both the Old Crow and Old Taylor distilleries and operated Old Crow through the mid-1980s, when they were sold to Jim Beam. Beam almost immediately closed down production — so suddenly that huge bins for the boilers are still full of coal today.

The old copper column still is gone, along with 21/2 warehouses that were taken down by wood reclaimers.

Jim Beam still owns warehouses between the Old Taylor and Old Crow properties and ages bourbon there; an Old Crow sign is still out front.

Although Deerfield, Ill.-based Beam Inc. — now Beam Suntory Inc. — owns the label and sells an Old Crow bourbon, it is based on the Jim Beam mashbill rather than the original recipe.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl

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