Peerless: Defying the Norm, Crafting a Century-Inspired Bourbon with Unyielding Determination

A journey through Peerless’ bold move to whiskey legacy reinstatement

Even the casual whiskey aficionado might find esteemed pride in recognizing the whimsical, enticing world of Peerless whiskey. Their name transcends the boundaries of time, acting as a beacon of infallible quality and resolute consistency. But this journey, their pursuit of the highest whiskey making standards, was anything but easy. Let’s set on the path to explore the Peerless decision to break free from the norm, the evolution of a distillery embodying resilience and determination.

Peerless: A bold move to the unknown

The historical foundation of Peerless traces back to the late 19th century, specifically to 1889, when Henry Kraver breathed life into Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company. It enjoyed a prosperous run until the onset of Prohibition compelled it to cease operations. The name slumbered for nearly a century until Kraver’s great-grandson Corky Taylor and his son Carson Taylor chose to resurrect the Peerless legacy.

The uphill task of crafting the first bourbon in a century

Resurrecting a distillery after a century felt like a herculean task. Rather than simply buying whiskey from another distillery and slapping their family’s name on the label, they started from scratch. The ambition was not only to revive the brand, but to also maintain the same quality that had been associated with the brand product nearly a century ago.

More than the effort and funds that went into the process, what stands out is the Peerless commitment to traditional distilling practices. Their decision to stay true to the robust and rigorous grain-to-bottle distillation process, instead of the more efficient and cheaper sourcing method, was a clear indication of their dedication to quality and authenticity.

Peerless’s firm commitment to quality

When reintroducing a bourbon after a whopping hundred-year hiatus, the name could easily have lost its relevance and charm. Yet, Peerless was steadfast in its desire to uphold its traditional standards. By using sweet mash instead of sour, employing a grain-to-bottle operation, and disregarding chill filtration, Peerless consciously decided to take the more difficult pathway. Not just to differentiate itself from others, but to achieve an optimum quality that resonated with the spirit of the original Peerless distillations.

Embracing a riskier approach, the distillery adopted the low barrel entry proof method, a practice largely forgotten in the modern spirit industry. This entails barreling the spirit at a lower alcohol content than most distilleries, which generally opt for a higher entry proof considering the economic advantage.

The marvel of barrel proof distilling

While this low entry proof undeniably leads to reduced output – and thus the potential for less profit – the benefits of exceptionally rich, flavorful bourbon took precedence for Peerless over mere economic interest.

They also decided to eschew continuous column stills in favor of a pot still, embracing the authenticity and elegance of the spirits that pot distillation yields. Even their decision to use barrels crafted from air-dried wood rather than kiln-dried imparted unique flavor profiles to the spirits and helped stand out in a market filled with mass-produced spirits.

A century-old legacy, resiliently reborn

The fruits of Peerless’s labor began to ripen when they released their first bourbon in over a century in 2019. Critics lauded it as the perfect blend of sweet, oak, and spice— a testament to the distinctive flavor profile Peerless diligently sought to uphold. All of their hard work had finally paid off, making every challenge faced along this journey worth it.

A toast to the path of persistence

What’s behind the successful resurrection of Peerless is not just the dedication to quality, authenticity, and family values, but a strategic choice to embrace hardship over shortcuts. By taking ‘the path of most resistance’, Peerless underlines the adage that the best things in life never come easy. This immense dedication was all directed toward one aim: ensuring that when someone picked up a bottle of Peerless Bourbon, they tasted not just whiskey, but the spirit of a family’s enduring pursuit of excellence.

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Written by Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis has been writing about spirits for over 10 years. He is a frequent speaker at whiskey festivals and events around the country and has been a judge at several international spirit competitions. He is passionate about educating people about the history and culture of whiskey and bourbon and loves to share his knowledge with others.

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