The story begins in Henderson, Ky., in 1889 when Henry Kraver, a banker by trade, purchased the Worsham Distillery following the death of former distillery owner Elijah Worsham. Within several years, Kraver increased the volume of production from eight to 200 barrels per day, and in 1907, he incorporated it as the Kentucky Peerless Distillery Company.
Kraver enjoyed his life-changing and prosperous venture in the bourbon industry until 1917, when he shut down the operation and sold his equipment to United Distilleries in Vancouver to aid in the effort to conserve corn as part of the war effort. Prohibition laws were implemented during this period, as well, which all but assured the demise of the popular whiskey brand.
Kraver managed to sell most of his stock of 63,000 barrels at the time, which was reportedly used for medicinal practices.
The rebirth of a brand
Although Corky Taylor had no direct connection to the bourbon industry, the great-grandson of Henry Kraver could relate to his family’s past and the Peerless days thanks to numerous mementos of pictures, archive documents, a desk and other objects that remained in the household.
“We always had a lot of stuff from Henry around,” Taylor recalled during a recent interview with IL. “Retirement wasn’t for me — I just needed to get back to work.”
So the idea of reviving the old family distillery caught his fancy. “I just wanted to put on a pair of jeans instead of a suit and have fun,” he said.
By James Natsis