Kentucky Governor Congratulates Woodford Reserve on 20th Anniversary of Distillery

September 11, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear kicked off a celebration of 200 years of whiskey making at the Woodford Reserve Distillery with a public acclamation honoring the historic milestone.

“The Woodford Reserve Distillery site is a pioneering landmark in early Bourbon history, with legendary names like Pepper and Crow who laid the foundation for and perfected methods of making Bourbon,” said Chris Morris, Brown-Forman Master Distiller.

“This week will reflect back on those early times with exclusive tours and events designed to take you back to 1812 for a glimpse of what life and Bourbon-making were like 200 years ago.”

The distillery will host an 1812-inspired evening on Saturday, Aug. 25, featuring a special Bourbon dinner by Ouita Michel, Chef in residence.

From Aug. 27 through Aug. 30, there will be daily history hikes to the 200-year-old Pepper House, an original spring house, the original distillery site and much more.

For information on these special tours and events, call 859-879-1934.

The story of Woodford County distilling began in 1797 when Elijah Pepper set up a distillery in the county seat of Versailles, then moved the operation in 1812 to a spot on the Grassy Springs Branch of Glenn’s Creek, where Woodford Reserve now stands.

Pepper’s son, Oscar, built the current distillery building in 1838, and it was there that his Master Distiller, Dr. James Crow, perfected the art and science of crafting Bourbon, Morris said.

In the late 1800s, the firm Labrot and Graham bought the distillery and ran it until 1941, when it was acquired by Brown-Forman. It was sold and repurchased by Brown-Forman in 1993 and underwent an extensive historic restoration before opening in 1996.

In 1995, the distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was a founding member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour in 1999, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000.

In his Acclamation, Gov. Beshear praised Woodford Reserve for “preserving the distillery much like it was in the 1800s — right down to the cypress wood fermenters and copper pot stills,” and noted the distillery still uses the same five sources of bourbon flavor invented by its pioneering founders and distillers.

Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, applauded Woodford Reserve’s dedication to preserving the distillery and its historic craft, and said it has made the distillery a popular stop on the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure.

“Visitors love the timeless experience when they tour Woodford Reserve,” Gregory said. “The picturesque distillery and its vintage stone warehouses harken back to the birth of our signature industry.

“Plus, the charming drive through horse country and the gentle, rolling waters of Glenn’s Creek offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the Bluegrass. We congratulate Woodford Reserve and look forward to its 200th anniversary celebration this week.”

A copy of the Governor’s Acclamation is attached.

For more information, please contact:

Brittany Gilbert, Woodford Reserve, 502-774-6949

On the web:

Woodford Reserve:
Kentucky Bourbon Trail:
Kentucky Distillers’ Association:

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