Kentucky’s Long Shuttered T.W. Samuels Distillery To Be Revived As Old Samuels Distillery

The long history of whisk(e)y making in places like Kentucky and Scotland has left behind in the rearview mirror at one point or another a myriad of historic distilling sites that end up dormant, shuttered, abandoned, forgotten, etc. As we’ve entered in recent years an obvious whisk(e)y boom, some of these places have been rediscovered, if you will, with grand plans often in place to restore them to some form of previous glory.

In Kentucky, one sees examples of this along the lines of Castle & Key (formerly Old Taylor) and James E. Pepper. Now another old distillery is getting set to return to glory in stages, with plans being announced “to create an historic bourbon tourism experience at the shuttered T.W. Samuels Distillery site just 10 minutes from downtown Bardstown.”

Old Samuels Distillery

The Old Samuels Distillery grounds (image via Old Samuels Distillery)

What will be known as Old Samuels Distillery, according to those behind it, will initially start its journey back to life “with an intimate tour of the premises’ historic structures, followed by a retail gift shop. Around four-dozen private cottages will be available for overnight accommodations, and guests will find locally inspired food and drink at its restaurant, bar and tasting room.”

“The historic significance of the property is so incredible, and to be able to be a part of its rebirth is an honor for me and my partners,” said Georgia-based property developer and builder Rick Puig, who hopes to open for restoration tours as early as the end of summer 2020, in a prepared statement. “It is with that honor and gratitude that we hope to make the community proud of how we bring this historic relic back to life. Our goal is to create an amazing and wholly unique experience for Kentucky bourbon tourism.”

Old Samuels Distillery

Inside Old Samuels Distillery (image via Old Samuels Distillery)

For those unfamiliar with T.W. Samuels, he “created his namesake distillery in 1844. It was operated by his sons until Prohibition began in 1920. When ‘the great social and economic experiment’ ended in 1933, third-generation distiller, T.W. Samuels built a new distillery near the original site, where he made whiskey lauded for its high quality. Though whiskey making at T.W. Samuels ended in 1952, the plant was used to bottle water for several decades afterward.

“Despite the production facility’s idling in the 1980s, the site’s nine, one-of-a-kind steepled-roof rickhouses have continued to age more than 170,000 barrels of whiskey made by Heaven Hill Distillery and Maker’s Mark.”

Old Samuels Distillery

An aging warehouse at Old Samuels Distillery (image via Old Samuels Distillery)

“One of many things will make touring Old Samuels so amazing is how much of what was used to make whiskey back then still remains,” noted Puig. “The first time we came here, the lab, where grain and new make and whiskey were analyzed for quality, we found beakers, test tubes and electronic devices from that time just left in place as if workers would return the next day. It’s this incredible snapshot in time, and that’s only part of what visitors will see.”

The distillery’s power plant, which generated steam energy and electricity, remains completely intact, it is said, as do its multiple outdoor fermentation tanks. The facility sits beside the Deatsville train depot, where Puig hopes future tourists will disembark from rail cars for tours to explore the site.

What was not immediately clear was when, or if, distilling might start reoccurring at the site. The assumption at this point would be yes, but we will have to wait and see for further development plans from Puig and his team.


Subscribe to our newsletter