In 1945 Schenley distilleries purchased the Fairfield Distillery in Bardstown, Ky. The distillery was producing the brand “Pride of Nelson” when Schenley purchased the company. The Second World War saw Schenley acquire many smaller distilleries. The fact was that the government was rationing the amount of grain being distilled during the war and every distillery was getting an equal amount sent to them. Schenley would purchase smaller distilleries for two benefits – their aging whiskey and their grain shipments. Schenley would take grain from the smaller distilleries and send them to places with a larger distilling capacity like Bernheim in Louisville or Geo.T. Stagg in Frankfort.
This photograph is from shortly after the war. Schenley would send a photographer to their distilleries to create a photographic library of the site so that their President, Louis Rosenstiel and other executives in New York could see for themselves the needs of the distillery. This photograph is part of a collection that was used to approve the construction of three new warehouses in 1951. Schenley changed the name of the distillery to the “Bardstown Distillery” and later to the Geo. T. Stagg Distillery. Schenley always changed the name of the distillery to Geo.T. Stagg Distillery before they closed a distillery down. I think it made the paperwork easier to transfer the aging whiskey to Frankfort.
The Fairfield Distillery was a victim of overproduction in the 1950s. When the Korean War broke out, Rosenstiel was convinced that it would become another World War and beverage alcohol production would cease in order to produce high proof alcohol for the military. The result was that he ordered all of their distilleries to produce until their warehouses were full, and even built new warehouses at several distilleries, such as the Fairfield Distillery in 1951. The government never prohibited the production of beverage alcohol and Schenley had more aging whiskey than they could sell. They started closing down their smaller distilleries and by 1970 these distilleries were all closed and the property sold. In this case the property is now owned by Heaven Hill who uses the warehouses to age some of their whiskey.
Photo from the archives of Michael Veach