Bourbon Industry

Feline of succession: Oscar filling Woodford distillery's cat ambassador role purr-fectly

Woodford Reserve Distillery's new feline ambassador is named Oscar and is a orange tabby like his predecessor.  Oscar was rescued from the Woodford County Humane Society.  Photographed on Friday September 4, 2014 in Versailles, Ky.  Photo by Mark Mahan
Woodford Reserve Distillery's new feline ambassador is named Oscar and is a orange tabby like his predecessor. Oscar was rescued from the Woodford County Humane Society. Photographed on Friday September 4, 2014 in Versailles, Ky. Photo by Mark Mahan Herald-Leader

A new brand ambassador is quietly making his mark at Woodford Reserve.

Oscar, a tabby rescued through the Woodford County Humane Society, began his stint as the distillery's resident cat last winter and has quickly become an irresistible draw for tourists in the visitors center.

After the death last summer of Elijah, the beloved orange distillery cat, Woodford Reserve announced his passing on Facebook. Hundreds posted remembrances and condolences on social media, often with favorite photos of the cat.

Visitor center manager Dee Ford knew they had to have a successor. So she started looking for a new feline face of the distillery. After several scouting trips, she found the perfect one, a former Woodford County barn cat who was a bit on the timid side.

The young "whiskey-bourbon orange" tabby is still a bit shy, Ford said. But once someone starts petting his head, he turns on the charm, she said, and will encourage petting and cuddling for as long as he can get it.

Visitors who toured the Woodford Reserve distillery often found Elijah curled up asleep among barrels in the barrelhouse or in his favorite spot near the Dryer House.

Oscar, named for the real Elijah Pepper's son, is more of a homebody and tends to stay near the visitors center, sleeping in a nearby house at night.

But Oscar does one thing his predecessor didn't: He comes when Ford calls or whistles.

"He wears a blue collar with a bell on it, and you can hear him coming," Ford said.

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