Old Taylor Castle
Woodford County, Ky

The Story of a Castle

The following is an excerpt from an Old Taylor Distillery promotion of a ceramic castle replica decanter :

Back in 1887, Colonel Edmund H. Taylor Jr., set out to make a bourbon so good that it would honor his name long after his time.

He began by seeking out a very special kind of water; limestone spring water. Water with a clean, tantalizing taste that it acquires naturally as it bubbles up through limestone ground rock.

The Colonel discovered his spring at Glenn’s Creek near Frankfort, Kentucky. The water here gushed up so pure, so plentiful, that he knew he would never want to make bourbon anywhere else.

So, beside this perfect spring, he built his distillery. And since he knew he was there to stay, he built it to last. Built it in the form of a castle, and made of the very limestone that was to give his water its intriguing flavor.

The castle is still there today, complete with tower and turrets. It’s the Colonel’s enduring symbol of great bourbon making tradition.

Castle Decanter

Click below to visit our
nostalgic collection of
Old Taylor Whiskey Memorabilia.






History of the Old Taylor Distillery

Located in a picturesque valley along the banks of Glenn's Creek in northern Kentucky, the Old Taylor Distillery site consists of eighty-two acres.   The site features the famous Old Taylor Castle, the Old Taylor Peristyle Springhouse and formal Sunken Gardens, in addition to several industrial whiskey-barrel warehouse buildings.  The distillery was once a thriving bourbon producer of the bluegrass state and was the first to reach the benchmark count of one million U.S. Government certified cases of Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

The Old Taylor Distillery has been called one of the most remarkable sights in the bourbon industry. The main distillery building, the Old Taylor Castle, is made entirely of hand cut Kentucky white limestone and was built to resemble a medieval castle.  The castle was often featured in Old Taylor advertisements and on labels as a company trademark.

Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr. established the Old Taylor Distillery in 1887.  He was known as the “father of the modern bourbon industry”.

Taylor was known for his guarantee of quality in an industry that had virtually lost all credibility with consumers.

Taylor worked tirelessly to pass laws that would ensure quality product, and he was successful. He was the originator of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, which was a federal subsidy by tax deferral for product made under strict government standards and supervision.

The success of this Act, lead the way for other federally enforced standards for food products.  Most of our current standards in consumable products followed the spirit of consumer protection that E. H. Taylor Jr. brought to the bourbon industry. The governor of Kentucky bestowed the title of Colonel upon him for his contributions on this important matter of consumer protection.  

One of Colonel Taylor's most significant architectural achievements on the grounds of the distillery is the Old Taylor Springhouse, a marvel of Art Nouveau design.



The open-air Peristyle with carved limestone columns and ionic capitals, surrounds the key to the distillery’s world-famous bourbon, the crystal clear spring, which was the distillery’s water supply.

Appropriately, the spring reservoir was built in the shape of a large key-hole.



Colonel Taylor was a descendent of two U.S. Presidents, James Madison and Zachary Taylor.   His early career had centered around the banking industry and his connections to wealth and power were beneficial to his business adventures, as well as his political interests, as he was elected to serve sixteen years as the Mayor of Frankfort, KY.

Colonel Taylor is said to have regularly entertained noted government officials and society’s elite at the distillery.  One such gathering is shown in this vintage photograph of the Peristyle Springhouse with the caption:
E. H. Taylor and Sons entertain the Bankers of Kentucky on the Old Taylor Grounds at an old fashioned barbecue. The Governor of Kentucky in center.