Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

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Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby RobotAZ » Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:47 pm

I also drove through Woodford County today. I took an extended lunch break from work (Please don't be on here BOSS!!) These are impromptu pics with my phone and have no artistic value whatsoever. The color is really washed out. The goal is to update the condition of the facilities.

Old Taylor: The only building that appeared to have been removed was the north side warehouse. The rest appears to be relatively intact. The spring fountain area is badly overgrown. The place is creepy and a great destination if you want to kidnap a friend and drop them off in a nightmare. :evil2:

Old Crow: I saw a Skyjack with guys power spraying the black off of the bricks on the single-story warehouses that are closest to Old Taylor (upstream). I also saw the Jim Beam van with guys going in and out of a large warehouse close to the still area. There were about eight cars that appeared to be worker's cars up by the gate in the warehouse area. It (the warehouse area) appeared to be totally functional. No buildings other than a stone building that appears to have been disassembled were gone or collapsing.

Heading from work in Versailles down Glenn Creek Road.
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Labrot & Graham
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Taylor
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Old Crow
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Old Crow
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Old Crow
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Old Crow
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Old Crow
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Old Crow. Jim Beam van in action.
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Old Crow
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Old Crow
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Old Crow
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Bridge over Glenn Creek in Millville
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Back into the Bluegrass
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Driving back to work enjoying the sun and leaves!
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby kevinnewman502 » Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:20 pm

NICE PICS!...I'd Like to get beyond the fence for some snaps at the Old Crow sometime...the place looks amazing!!!...Next week or so the Leaves out that way should be awesome! Kevin
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby RobotAZ » Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:37 am

Yeah, I want to go in these places. If you know anyone who can get us in for a brief tour please let me know. I'll do the same. I'm going to start asking around and see what I can come up with.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby p_elliott » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:57 am

When did they shut down the Old Taylor and Old Crow distilleries ? We checked them out when we were down for the KBF.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby RobotAZ » Tue Oct 20, 2009 10:02 am

I just don't see how it could be cost effective to buy Old Taylor, rip it's guts out, and sell it, but I also don't know the relative sales figures and all of the numbers involved. It's just hard to imagine how that was efficient. I'm wondering if the transfer of manufacturing to Asia and others has proven shutting those places down to be an unwise decision. They could pump this stuff out for nothing in China. Mozilla, do you know anything about the economics relative to world manufacturing and what it's done to our nation's distilling situation?
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby cowdery » Tue Oct 20, 2009 1:06 pm

It was DeKuyper, which is what they still make at the plant in Cincinnati.

Beam still owns the Cincinnati plant as well as Old Grand-Dad in Frankfort. It no longer owns either Crow or Taylor, although it may still have some whiskey aging there (hence the van).

You have to remember what the industry was like in 1987, when Beam and National "merged." (It was really an acquisition, but they called it a merger.) The American whiskey category was moribund. Beam had excess capacity with the two distilleries it already owned, as did virtually everyone else in the industry. Some distilleries were operating for only a few months every year.

At the time, Taylor was already closed as a distillery and had been since 1972. Crow and Grand-Dad were still operating but Crow was on its last legs, as maintenance and upgrades had been long deferred. Beam shut them both down immediately, although it kept Grand-Dad open for aging and bottling, and also used the Glenns Creek Road warehouses for aging, although the condition of the warehouses and the lousy aging conditions down in that valley (too humid) led them and their lessees, such as Wild Turkey, to abandon that use as well. The buildings are gradually being dismantled to salvage their bricks and lumber.

It is typical whenever any distillery is closed to pull out and sell any copper, which always has value and which there is usually lot of in any distillery. Since you can't remove the copper from the still without taking it apart, the stills are almost always gone.

What I wish I could have seen at Crow, and never did, are the old pot stills they used as doublers. As I understand it, these were actual alembics that had been beer stills in the pre-column still era. I saw a photograph once. They were pretty cool.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby RobotAZ » Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:55 pm

Well I was assuming that you could just churn out vast quantities of whiskey and store them in barrels and call it any type of whiskey that you want other than regulated, named whiskeys and sell the hell out of it. Call me a cynic, but I think most of America is pretty clueless about what makes a good product truly good and that you could easily get away with importing junk alcohol, sticking it in any kind of barrel, and bottle it anywhere and call it whiskey. Then slam the U.S. with a ridiculous ad campaign with Britney Spears getting out of a car with a bottle of "Temptation Whiskey" in her hand, and sell tons of the garbage. HAHA, sorry for that diversion.

Regardless of that issue, It just seems like the world market for bourbon would make these distillery sites very valuable. I'm surprised Japanese didn't buy any of them in the '80s. I have a lot to learn. Please excuse my ignorance.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby cowdery » Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:15 pm

Beam recently added a significant amount of production capacity. If they wanted to add an additional facility they might have returned Old Grand-Dad to production without too much doing, but they felt it was more cost effective to expand Boston (i.e., Booker Noe). That's what everybody is doing, making existing plants bigger. I suspect Angostura looked at the Glenn's Creek Road plants but decided (correctly) that Medley in Owensboro was in much better shape and had a much better location in terms of accessibility. Crow and Taylor are now and have been for years ruins. Hardly any of the buildings have functioning roofs. A roofless building will become useless very quickly. They are not salvagable as production facilities and if someone at this point decided to restore them for their historical importance it would cost a fortune. Plus as you know from making the drive, the only way to get there is a small two-lane road that would be almost impossible to improve, running as it does through a narrow valley. Taylor and Crow were served by the railroad back in the day, but those tracks haven't carried a train for decades and that road is not friendly to big trucks. The distillers who have looked at the sites have also decided they aren't very good for aging. The humidity is high, the air circulation is poor and they don't get much sunlight, compared to the preferred hill top locations.

Despite strong sales growth, especially internationally, and some major expansions of production capacity, the industry as a whole is not operating at capacity, as evidenced by the fact that Diageo, the world's largest distilled spirits company, manages to supply all of its bourbon needs without owning a working bourbon distillery. It owns one, Old Fitzgerald, which it uses for aging, but it's not cost effective for them to upgrade it to a working distillery.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby RobotAZ » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:51 am

That all makes perfect sense. Now my thoughts have moved on to the fact that we have this incredible history, invaluable in my opinion, just rotting into the ground. I think, and this is just my personal opinion, that of all the things that KY spends taxpayer money on, Old Crow and/or Old Taylor (my vote) have the potential to be amazing tourist destinations. It could be a shrine to represent a major contribution that KY has given to the world (cue orchestra music). We spend a lot of money on trying to turn "normal" KY things into tourist attractions. I would be delighted for my taxes to be spent on such an ambitious program.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby cowdery » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:37 pm

"Those sites made some of the best whisky in the Nation for about 100 years."

I disagree. Taylor was never a big producer and, considering prohibition, probably was active for less than 50 years and for much of that time it produced only intermitently. It was mostly used as a showplace. Their whiskey was good, but nothing special.

Crow was a high production facility and from the expansion in the mid-sixties until shortly before it closed, the whiskey made there was sub-standard, which was why it suffered more than any other brand when the market for bourbon collapsed. They were making and selling crap.

As for the aging conditions, I may have overstated, but that was one of the reasons it wasn't deemed desirable to keep using those warehouses.

I think they should have been preserved for their historic significance alone, not because they were exemplary distilleries, because they weren't.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby cowdery » Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:47 pm

Those dates are wrong. Taylor was completed in about 1904, although there was at least one previous distillery on the site. Crow was a little earlier, but no earlier than 1878. Both claimed, or at least implied, earlier dates. Crow himself died in 1856, while working at what is now Woodford Reserve. That distillery was briefly known as Old Crow, which probably accounts for the 1860 date. "About 100 years" is probably a fair estimate for Crow, but about half that would be correct for Taylor.

I mentioned production capacity because most of the whiskey produced by those two distilleries was produced by Crow, not Taylor, and Crow's product during much of that period was not good.

So, yes, I feel your assertion that "those sites made some of the best whisky in the Nation for about 100 years," was stretching things too far.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby bunghole » Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:58 pm

Chuck Cowdery wrote - "Crow was a high production facility and from the expansion in the mid-sixties until shortly before it closed, the whiskey made there was sub-standard, which was why it suffered more than any other brand when the market for bourbon collapsed. They were making and selling crap."

Agreed. I have never tasted anything labeled as Old Crow to be anything good much less special. It isn't called "The Dirty Birdie" for nothing. It may have been great bourbon when Dr. Crow was distilling it at the Oscar Pepper Distillery (now Woodford Reserve), and Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons) may have loved it.

All of the Old Crow that I have ever tasted has been just as Chuck stated. "Crap".

How nice it would be if we could go back in time and have a tasting event with Dr. Crow; Mark Twain, Mike of Georgia and his talking bourbon drinking dog - Barleycorn. Then a nice little steamboat trip down the Mississippi to New Orleans to see Miss Katrina! If pants could dance! My, My, My!

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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby bourbonv » Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:09 pm

Chuck has his site history off some when it comes to Old Taylor. Yes there was a distillery there before Old Taylor - the Jacob Swigert Taylor Distillery purchased by Edmund Hatnes Taylor Jr. in 1870, the same year he purchased the distillery that was rebuilt into the OFC distillery. When Taylor had his falling out with Mr. Gregory of Gregory and Stagg, he restarted at the Jacob Swigert Taylor Distillery by renaming the place the Old Taylor distillery and started to produce his whiskey there. It never quit running until prohibition hit the United States in 1920. He remodled the distillery because he wanted to do there what he started to do at OFC before his financial troubles, and turn it into showplace where sales representatives could be proud to point to as the home of their bourbon. The results was the "Castle" facade added to the distillery that was completed in 1904 with little interuption to production. This remodeling job did include some additions, but the basic structure of the original distillery is still there and until Beam purchased the site, the original pot stills were part of that structure. Taylor also did not worry about the damp conditions because he used heated warehouses to age his whiskey. I had a bottle of his bonded bourbon bottled in 1918 and it is still one of my favorite bourbons ever, even though it was only 4 years old. I would never say he made sub-par whiskey at the site. It was excellent. Now in 1920 the distillery closed. The brand was eventually sold to National and the distillery was sold with a proviso that it would never be used for distilling again. National bought the site at the end of prohibition, but it took several years of legal maneuvering to get the distillery re-opened.

Now as far as Old Crow, I have had some excellent Old Crow Bonded from the 1960's, especially and excellent bottle found by our own Scratchline who gifted me a bottle. That bottle from Mike was once again an excellent whiskey at 5 years old. I would not say sub-par in any respect. Taylor always said that the best Kentucky whiskey was made in the Kentucky River Valley. I see no reason to disagree with him.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby cowdery » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:14 pm

I never said Taylor made sub-par whiskey.

The remodeling in the early 20th century was very extensive. I have seen dated photographs showing the construction of the castle and other work being done on the site in 1902, 1903. The distillery itself may well have been producing through it all but the "showcase" facility, with the castle and the Romanesque spring house and all the rest was finished in about 1904. The distillery built there in 1872 would have looked completely different. The point is that if one were to restore what is there today, one would re restoring an early 20th century site, not a late 19th century one. This was a revelation what Amy Bennett discovered it, because I had always accepted the 1872 date.
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Re: Pics of Glenn Creek drive through Woodford County

Unread postby Kinsey Worker » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:48 pm

I disagree that Brick warehouses are not condusive to high quality aged whiskey. When i worked at Publicker 90% of our Whiskeys were aged in Our 14 brick explosion Proof warehouses and our Whiskeys were some of The best Ever made! We had systems to cool them and heat them floor by floor. I consider our Warehouses to be some of the Best ever made for the aging of Whiskey to make them the most flavorfull of that time.
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