Old Crow Distillery is an abandoned distillery in central Kentucky. The plant closed in 1987 as a result of a buy-out from competitor Jim Bean. The site today is partially reused as Glenns Creek Distilling.
Kentucky has been all about bourbon since the Commonwealth was established just over 226 years ago. Dr. James Crow was born in Scotland in 1779 and studied medicine and chemistry there. Around 1823, Dr. Crow moved to Kentucky after going through a bankruptcy. He was drawn by the prospect of creating a viable business in the whiskey distilling industry.
He started his career in the states in 1835 at Grier’s Creek Distillery and is credited with standardizing the sour mash process of distilling spirits. He basically is credited with adding the science portion to the art of distilling.
After 1835, Dr. Crow moved to the Old Pepper Distillery, which is now the home of Woodford Reserve. It was at the distillery that the first batches of what would become Old Crow were distilled. After the Old Pepper Distillery he moved to the Johnson Distillery which is the same site that would eventually become the famed Old Taylor distillery.
After Dr. Crow’s death in 1856, his recipe, yeast strains, and process were inherited by William F. Mitchell. Mitchell took that process and recipe to Gaines, Berry and Co. around 1872 at their newly constructed distillery located on the same plot of land as the Old Pepper Distillery.
The bourbon produced at Gaines was named after Crow’s recipe titled merely “Old Crow.” After a dispute over ownership of the name, “Old Crow” was decided in 1915 in favor of Gaines.
With the bourbon industry slowing down, National Distillers sold their remaining spirits industry interests, including the Old Crow brand and the Old Crow Distillery.
The Old Crow Distillery closed although some of the barrel houses were reused for barrel storage by Jim Bean. Three other warehouses, due to their age, were abandoned in the 1990s. We prepared 25 stunning photos from inside abandoned Old Crow Distillery buildings.