Chuck's biography of Taylor has a few things right about it. Taylor was born in 1830 in the Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky on the banks of the Mississippi River. His family was actually qite well off. His grandfather, Richard "Black Dick" Taylor was surveyor for the Revolutionary War land grants in the area. John Taylor was considered the son that was least well off in the family, but even he owned several slaves. One of them, Tony, was with him when the steamboat they were traveling on sank in the Mississippi River and Tony saved what little luggage that was saved.
E H Taylor was the great-nephew of Zachary and spent some time in New Orleans with Zachary Taylor after John Taylor died in 1835. When he was old enough, Young Edmond went to Lexington to live with his Uncle Edmond Haynes Taylor, who paid for his nephews education in a private school. It was this time that he added Jr. to his name and kept it for the rest of his life out of respect for his Uncle Edmond all he did for him. In 1851 Taylor entered the banking business with some other investors. Some of their customers included John Hunt Morgan and Cassius Clay. By 1857 the bank was forced to close the books and Taylor tried his hand in many other schemes. He dealt in cotton during the Civil War, with the help of his friend and the father of his future daughter in law, J.J. Crittenden. After the war he became the "Company" in Gaines, Berry and Co. His first task was to spend a year traveling to Europe to study the distilleries in Ireland, Scotland, France and Germany. He returned to Kentucky and helped Gaines, Berry and Co. to build a new distillery, Hermitage Distillery, in order to make Old Crow whiskey. By 1870, he took this knowledge with him to start the OFC distillery on the Banks of the Kentucky River.
The OFC distillery was to be a modern distillery and a show place. Taylor invested in heavily in it. He also acquired another distillery at about the same time and let his son, Jacob Swigert Taylor manage it. This later distillery would become the Old Taylor distillery. Taylor also became heavily invested in the Old Oscar Pepper distillery because he was guardian for James E. Pepper and helped Pepper fianace improvements at the distillery in the 1870s. Unfortunately over production of whiskey and a run on the banks, caused in part by the 1874 election that was very controversial in out come (think Gore-Bush election) caused Taylor and Pepper to go into bankruptcy. The OFC distillery had several large clients who acquired their whiskey and one of them was the firm of Augustus Labrot of Cincinnati and another was the the firm of Gregory and Stagg of St. Louis. Labrot's son and a man name Graham purchased the Old Oscar Pepper distillery and Gregory and Stagg gave Taylor money to pay his debts in return for the control of OFC distillery. By 1884, Taylor resigned from running the OFC distillery and Stagg became plant manager. Taylor sued to force Stagg to quit using Taylor's name and then went to the Jacob Swigert Distillery and turned it into E H Taylor, Jr. and Sons distillery and started making Old Taylor.
Taylor was a crusader for the straight bourbon cause and did use his influence to get the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 passed. He did not help pass the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, but did use his influence to have the definition of "Whiskey" to be defined as only straight whiskey. His son Edmond argued the case before President Taft in 1909. In his later years he did raise Hereford cattle and had several that became champions of the breed.
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873