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
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.
The First Peerless Whiskey is Crafted
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.
Henry H. Kraver becomes Distillery Owner
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.
U.S. Federally Bonded Warehouses
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.
The Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company
As the wholesale market expands to Chicago and St. Louis, the 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. The initial capital stock is $100,000.
Success and Growth
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
The Lever Food and Fuel Act
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.
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.
Peerless Available by Prescription
During the early 1920s, the Peerless federally-bonded warehouses are used for whiskey storage under the 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.
For a period of time, Peerless product is of the few available by prescription for medicinal use.
Kraver Sustains the Great Depression
In the early throes of the Great Depression, Henry Kraver invests in and serves as president of the First National Bank of Henderson. Opening its doors in 1932, the bank operates under this same name until 1993.
The newly minted Montgomery Ward department store does not survive and in 1934 Kraver retrofits the space to be an 800-seat movie house and vaudeville stage. The Kraver Theater remains open from 1935 until 1976.
A Threat to Kraver's Grandson
An event happens in 1933 that would alter the course of the Peerless legacy. Local union workers break into a Henderson insurance agency and leave a threatening letter for Kraver stating, “You better look out for your grandson.” With this, the Kraver family sends him to military school.
After many amazing life experiences of his own, this grandson grows up to be the father of Corky Taylor and grandfather of Carson Taylor. Corky and Carson, respectively the 4th and 5th generations, are now reviving the legendary Peerless namesake in Louisville, Kentucky.
The End of an Era
After a dedicated marriage, many business ventures, and a daughter together, Henry's wife Ida passes away in 1936.
In October 1937, Kraver falls from the top of the grandiose stairs of the famous Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. This fall leaves him in need of surgery, and eventually, a leg amputation.
Henry Kraver passes away from related complications in January 1938 at age 78.
A Legacy Revived
A building permit is issued to fourth and fifth-generation Corky and Carson Taylor. They begin construction on the new Peerless distillery.
The over 115-year-old building in downtown Louisville is restored to become the remarkable distillery as it exists today.
Construction is completed by March of 2015.
Peerless is able to obtain the original Kentucky Distilled Spirits Plant Number from the first Peerless Distillery in Henderson, Kentucky in the 1800s.
DSP-KY-50 represents the history behind the Peerless family and the legacy behind Peerless bourbon. Today, Distilled Spirits Numbers are established in the 20,000s.
March 4, 2015
Barrel Number 1 is Filled
For the first time since 1917, Peerless Whiskey is back in the barrel.
Corky Taylor, Henry Kraver’s Great Grandson, has come out of retirement to revive the family brand by opening Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company in downtown Louisville with his son Carson Taylor, 5th Generation.
The Taylor family is making Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey and Bourbon. The legendary Peerless spirit continues and a new legacy is born.
June 3, 2015
Peerless Grand Opening
Peerless family and friends, including Mayor Greg Fisher, gather to celebrate the Peerless grand opening.
Doors are officially open to the Peerless distillery and the public has the opportunity to participate, first-hand in the Peerless legacy.
The significant distillery development is later recognized with a Cornerstone Award.
Perfecting the Peerless Bottle
After a design that embodies Peerless spirits is complete, Carson Taylor travels to the bottle factory he has been working with for the past two years to give input on the execution.
It took about a year working with the glass manufacturers to perfect the vision for the bottle.
Being a part of the process was crucial to Carson because this bottle will hold the first Peerless whiskey in 100 years.
November 18, 2017
Exclusive Distillery Single Barrel Selections
Head distiller Caleb Kilburn selects three single barrels that highlight distinctive natural profiles to be introduced on November 18, 2017.
Due to the careful distilling process, Peerless Rye is multi-dimensional in terms of flavor. Single Barrel selections allow for concentration on a particular barrel’s unique characteristics.
November 20, 2017
Peerless Named Top 20 Whiskies in the World
Whisky Advocate names Peerless’s two-year Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey as 15th Most Exciting Whiskey of the Year. Peerless was the first craft distillery to ever be included since its start 25 years ago.
Peerless’s Rye Whiskey was also the only rye whiskey included on the list. Whisky Advocate ranks its Top 20 list based on a blind tasting and releases the list each November leading up to New York WhiskyFest.
“Delivering a buttery mouthfeel with toasted rye and baking spice notes, Peerless is the only craft producer on our list... Peerless is paving the way and we expect more craft distillers to join them.” Fred Minnick
December 6, 2017
Peerless Awarded Package of the Year
The National Association of Container Distributors name the Peerless bottle design, label and cap the Package of the Year in the spirits division.
The bottle was designed by Fifth Generation and President Carson Taylor.
Sparing no expense, Taylor worked to develop a package that embodied Kentucky Peerless for over two years. The cork and bottle are of the heaviest on the market.
April 24, 2018
Peerless is Ranked Top Rye Whiskey
Whisky Advocate ranks eight popular rye whiskies with a grading scale. Peerless was given the highest score of 91 points.
Aaron Goldfarb said: “Rye is a perfect niche for craft whiskey distillers, as it often drinks well at a younger age than many bourbons. A revival product for a once-prominent distillery that closed due to prohibition, this youthful rye makes a splashy entrance. A fruity, tropical nose leads into a bold and peppery palate. The high proof means it’s a tad hot, but a splash of water softens that and unlocks baking spices and anise on the finish. Whisky Advocate’s blind tasting panel ranked this rye number 15 in the 2017 Top 20 Whiskies of the Year.”
October 3, 2018
Henry County Barrel Warehouse Ribbon Cutting
Peerless rolls the first barrel into the new barrel warehouse in Henry County, Kentucky. The new warehouse is approximately 30 minutes away from the downtown distillery, holding up to 5,300 barrels.
Peerless purchased 19 acres of land with the intention of building up to six rickhouses on the land. Each rickhouse is designed to match the on-site rickhouse at one story high (6 ricks). Peerless’s new rickhouse is the first completed distillery-related project being added to Henry County.
November 14, 2018
Peerless Rye Whiskey 3 Year is Released
Peerless releases the second Small Batch product to market at three-years-old.
Master Distiller, Caleb Kilburn’s tasting notes on the whiskey: “Caramels, cinnamon, citrus, and tobacco lead off an amazing nose. Floral and vanilla notes come to life as rye spices and sweet grasses also add complex earth tones to this nose. The first sip is sweet before rolling into a cinnamon-spiced rye truffle. Orange and cherry syrup linger. The second sip leads off with an amazing change-up, featuring sweet/spicy oak, dark chocolate, and a burst of complex spices before returning to a brilliant fruity character. Oaks and chocolates lead off an amazing finish that features every branch of the flavor wheel. Florals even come to life late in the finish, refreshing the palate and encouraging another pour.”
January 30, 2019
Craft Producer of the Year
Peerless receives Whisky Magazine’s Craft Producer of the Year Award in New York City. Corky and Jamia Taylor receive the award, narrowed down from 900 nominations and then down to 20 craft distilleries in the Americas.
When asked what Peerless First Generation Henry Kraver would think, Taylor said, “I know he’s looking down on us, I know my grandfather is and I know my father is. This is great for our family, but it’s great for everybody who works here at the distillery and who cares about the distillery. We did this as a family.”
Nominations are made through by peers in the industry through Whisky Magazine. The final decision is made by the Whiskey Magazine Editorial Panel.
March 28, 2019
Global Craft Producer of the Year
Master Distiller Caleb Kilburn travels to London in March to accept the Global Craft Producer of the Year award from Whisky Magazine. Corky Taylor congratulated the team at Peerless for their hard work and passion for the products, while Caleb also gave credit to the Peerless family.
Upon accepting the award, Caleb said, “This distinction is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the team that Corky and Carson Taylor have assembled. I was so proud to accept this award that solidifies the revival of Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company.”
Nominations are made by industry peers through Whisky Magazine, with the final decision made by the Whisky Magazine Editorial Panel. They then take recipients from around the world and award each distillery within their given category.
June 22, 2019
The First Peerless Bourbon in over 100 Years is Released ... and Sold Out Twice
Peerless releases their first bourbon in 102 years. After barreling in March of 2015, the four-year-old product was the first Peerless bourbon available on the market without a prescription since Prohibition.
The release was on June 22, 2019, to honor Roy “Ace” Taylor Jr. on his birthday. The doors opened at 10 a.m. and all bottles of bourbon sold out before closing time at 5 p.m. Upon the second release on August 3, 2019, the bottles once again sold out within the business hours of that day.
Peerless Bourbon is rooted in fruits, florals and oaks.
September 18, 2019
National Bourbon Release
Peerless officially launches their first bourbon nationally. Upon release, New York, Florida, Texas, California, Illinois, Georgia and Kentucky are able to receive Peerless Bourbon in limited quantities.
When commenting on Peerless Bourbon, Cordell Lawrence, Director of Global Marketing and Strategy said, “Peerless is a legacy reborn and our mission is to produce bourbon worthy of the historic name. We are American-made down to our very bottle, never source, and embrace the artisanal history of bourbon using cutting edge technology.”
By the year 2020, Peerless Bourbon will be available in 45+ states.