Bourbon Industry

Elijah, Woodford Reserve's distillery cat, mourned

Elijah, feline bourbon ambassador at the Woodford Reserve distillery, sat in the background while bottles of bourbon were being photographed last summer at the distillery. Elijah, who was about 20 years old, died June 30. Distillery officials announced his death Wednesday.
Elijah, feline bourbon ambassador at the Woodford Reserve distillery, sat in the background while bottles of bourbon were being photographed last summer at the distillery. Elijah, who was about 20 years old, died June 30. Distillery officials announced his death Wednesday. Herald-Leader

One of the best-known and most-beloved (and possibly quietest and furriest) bourbon ambassadors has died: Elijah, the distillery cat at Woodford Reserve.

"We're deeply saddened to announce the passing of Elijah, our beloved distillery cat-in-residence," Woodford Reserve announced late Wednesday night on Facebook. "Elijah called the Woodford Reserve barrelhouse 'home' for two decades — often taking the night shift to keep watch over the barrels, ensuring the angels never took more than their share."

Elijah died June 30.

In his honor, the distillery lowered its Woodford Reserve flag to half staff. In a show of camaraderie, Maker's Mark's tour team posted condolences.

Fans of the bourbon and the cat also posted hundreds of remembrances on social media, many including photos of Elijah at work or asleep (roughly the same thing.)

"I have never been a cat fan, but any cat that likes bourbon is a friend of mine!" one fan said on Facebook.

"He's having the angel's share tonight," another tweeted, a reference to the whiskey lost to evaporation in the barrel.

Several called for a limited-edition bourbon dedicated to the orange-and-white cat who roamed the rackhouse and watched over the whiskey.

For many people, no tour of the Woodford County distillery was complete without a chance to meet, photograph and possibly pet Elijah, named for bourbon pioneer Elijah Pepper, the first distiller on the site in Woodford County.

Officials plan to honor Elijah with a plaque on the distillery's grounds.

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