Born in the Bluegrass, I come by my love for bourbon honest. Beyond the thrill of a Kentucky Hug, I am fascinated by the chemistry and faith that goes into every barrel, and even more bewitched by the stories behind brands.
I first heard bits and pieces of the Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company story at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival in the screening of Kindred Spirits, a documentary about Kentucky craft distilleries by my friends at the ABV Network. That teaser, combined with a tasting, was enough to put Master Distiller Caleb Kilburn on the top of my 502 Leader Series Podcast interview list.
I knew Caleb hailed from Eastern Kentucky, pursued bourbon as a passion before profession, and then dove into the opportunity to help rebuild the Peerless brand, but I had no idea just how rich a legacy they had revived.
In 1889 Polish immigrant turned thriving multifaceted businessman, Henry Karver, purchased E.W. Worsham Distilling and made short work of upgrading the facilities to amplify Peerless whiskey production and take a brand he had long dreamed of to the next level. Through ingenuity and serendipitous connections, Mr. Karver’s businesses thrived, and Peerless surged in production and distribution until a series of historical events led to the closing of the distillery and eventual extinction of Peerless product.
But, like the white dog we know takes time to reach peak flavor as seasons pass, a desire to continue the story was deepening season by season through the generations of Karver’s family.
Then in March of 2014, father-son team Corky and Carson Taylor, the fourth and fifth generation stewards of the brand, secured the original Distilled Spirits Plant Number (DSP-KY-50) and set out to remind the spirits scene how it’s done, Peerless style. Caleb came on to build the distillery from the ground up with an actual shovel in hand, and was named Master Distiller in December 2018 after his Kentucky Straight Rye had already earned multiple whiskey world accolades.
Now, 102 years after the last Peerless bourbon dropped, Caleb, Corky, Carson & team are releasing their first Kentucky Straight Bourbon after fours years of patient waiting. If their previous products are any indicator, it will blow our minds and off their shelves in no time.
Join us on this week’s edition of the #502Leader Series Podcast, featuring Master Distiller Caleb Kilburn and Director of Global Marketing and Strategy, Cordell Lawrence, where we dive into the many things that make this brand and its team truly peerless.