Our story begins in Henderson Co. Kentucky.
For Henry Kraver-the man that shaped the Peerless legacy-roots run into the 1800s through the river city of Henderson, Kentucky.
The first distilleries emerge in Henderson during the 1860-70s, with the likes of D.R. Burbank Distillery and Oakland Distillery. Both eventually succumb to the elements-fire destroying the former, river erosion sweeping away the latter.
In 1879, the L&N train line is completed, connecting the town of Henderson with larger cities such as Louisville & St. Louis. Industries of Henderson begin to flourish, including tobacco, buggy manufacturing and good ol’ whiskey.
In the Summer of 1881, business associates Elijah W. Worsham and Capt. J.B. Johnston combine to build the Henderson distillery E.W. Worsham & Co. Operations begin that same Winter, producing the first Peerless whiskey.
Worsham is producing between 300-400 barrels of Peerless per year at its peak in the 1880s.
In 1885, a 26-year old Henry H. Kraver finds his way to Henderson, Kentucky and begins work at the Mann Brothers department store. Recognizing a determination and dedication in Henry, the owners of the shop invest in his future.
With their assistance, Henry Kraver owns a saloon and is building the Kraver tobacco house by 1888.
During this same time, E.W. Worsham Distilling isn't able to keep steady, and eventually death catches Elijah Worsham. E.W. Worsham Distilling is then sold to Henry Kraver in the year 1889.
Kraver wastes no time making upgrades to the machinery and invests in additional warehouses.
These warehouses prove to be even more valuable when they become U.S. Federally Bonded following the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.
Production of Peerless whiskey rises from 8 to 200 barrels per week.
As the wholesale market expands to Chicago and St. Louis, production of Peerless liquor becomes substantial and reliable through the early 1900s.
Kraver is still operating under the auspices of Worsham Distilling Co. until 1907, when he incorporates as The Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company. Initial capital stock is $100,000.
By 1913, Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. employs nearly 50 workers and is producing 10,000 barrels per year. Kraver continues to make a number of investments in Henderson, including purchasing the Henderson Brewing Company, positioned on the bank of the Ohio River. Kraver makes quick work of increasing production & service.
By 1917, the Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. is running at peak production making 200 barrels per week, more than 23,000 barrels a year, with 63,000 barrels in storage.
Along with other distilleries, Henry Kraver ceases production to aid in the conservation of corn for the war effort. During this same time the 18th Amendment is passed and Prohibition begins.
The famous Peerless whiskey is officially out of production for the first time since 1881.
1917-1927 Vendome Copper and Brass
August 1917 The Lever Food and Fuel Act is passed by the dry forces in Congress which prohibits the wartime use of grain for the production of beverage alcohol. Kraver stops producing alcohol.
1925 Mr. Sherman is hired to dismantle a shuttered Henderson, Kentucky distillery (Kentucky Peerless) and re-erect it in Vancouver, British Columbia where he moved with his family for six months.
Note: Vendome existed before prohibition, however lost their business due to prohibition. Mr. Sherman later reopened sometime after 1927.
During the early 1920s, the Peerless federally-bonded warehouses are used for whiskey storage under armed protection of the U.S. Government.
In 1923, the contents of the warehouses (some 6,000 barrels of whiskey) are transported by troops to another facility in Owensboro, KY.