In the early 1870s, Edmund H. Taylor, Jr. purchased a small distillery in Woodford County, Kentucky and placed his eldest son, Jacob Swigert Taylor in charge of the production. They named the distillery for Jacob Swigert Taylor. The distillery was a small pot still distillery on the banks of Glen’s Creek near the town of Millville. The production was very small at about a barrel a day. Taylor paid cash for this distillery and since he placed his son in charge of the distillery, he never used it as collateral for loans or took out any loans to improve the distillery. This was fortunate in that it never became entangled in Taylor’s financial troubles of the Late 1870s. Taylor lost ownership of his O.F.C. Distillery in Frankfort to the St. Louis firm of Greggory and Stagg, but held on to ownership of the J. Swigert Taylor Distillery. When Taylor severed all ties with Greggory and Stagg in the mid-1880s, It was the J. Swigert Taylor Distillery where he turned in order to rebuild his business. He formed a new company E.H. Taylor, Jr. and Sons, and renamed the distillery the Old Taylor Distillery. The distillery was rebuilt and expanded and received the familiar castle shaped building of today.
Warehouse receipts became a part of the distilling business during the American Civil War. Bonded warehouses were established to hold barrels while they aged during the bonding period. Upon entering the warehouse, a warehouse receipt was created showing the number of barrels entering the warehouse, who owned the barrels, the proof of the whiskey in the barrels and the number of gallons in the barrels. At the end of the bonding period when the taxes were paid or whenever the barrels were sold and shipped to a customer, whichever came first, the warehouse receipt would then be cancelled.
The bonding period started as a one year period, but by the 1880s the period was increased to three years. In the early 1890s, the period was increased again to eight years and remained at eight years until 1958 when it was increased to twenty years. Warehouse receipts were often used as collateral for loans by the owner of the barrels which was in reality, using the barrels of whiskey for collateral. Whoever held the warehouse receipt, owned the barrels on that receipt.
This particular receipt is from the Special Collections at the University of Kentucky. It is a blank receipt and no barrels are shown on the receipt. The full name of the distillery as on the receipt is “J. Swigert Taylor’s Hand Made Sour Mash Distillery”. The distillery was probably using steam to heat the pot stills. If they were still using direct fire, Taylor would have probably added “Fire Copper” to this title. There were many distilleries of the time using the term “Old Fashioned Fire Copper Hand Made Sour Mash Distillery” in their name. The distillery was in Woodford County, but the receipt states the distillery office was in Frankfort, Kentucky. The barrel illustration on the receipt shows the trademark. The trademark, like the one E.H. Taylor, Jr. designed for the O.F.C. Distillery, covers the majority of the barrelhead and has J. Swigert Taylor’s signature as proprietor.
This warehouse receipt is an interesting image of the past. It represents an earlier stage of ownership of the distillery that is now Castle & Key Distillery. There are very few references to this stage of ownership of the distillery, but it is an important part of the present-day heritage of the Old Taylor brand and the Castle & Key Distillery.
Image from Special Collections at the University of Kentucky