Peerless Distilling Co.: Overcoming Challenges to Craft their First Bourbon in 100 Years

Peerless Distilling Co.: Overcoming Challenges to Craft their First Bourbon in 100 Years

A Story Spanning Over a Century: The Resurgence of Peerless Bourbon

Like Phoenix rising from its ashes, Peerless Distilling Co. has resurrected itself from a century-long hiatus to launch its first bourbon in over a hundred years. The tale of this prodigal bourbon is a journey filled with risks, challenges and, most importantly, passion for crafting a remarkable spirit, navigating the road less travelled to carve their own path in the bourbon industry.

Paying Homage to a Proud Heritage

Before we delve into Peerless’ compelling story, it is only fair that we pay homage to their remarkable history. The roots of Peerless can be traced back to Henry Kraver, a driven entrepreneur who purchased the failing Worsham Distilling Company located in Henderson, Kentucky, in 1889. Under Kraver’s astute leadership, the company flourished reaching its maximum production by 1917.

However, the advent of World War I and Prohibition saw the gradual decline of the distillery leading to its indefinite closure. The company’s renaissance would occur almost one century later, in 2014, when Corky Taylor decided to honor his great-grandfather Kraver’s legacy and restore the family business along with his son, Carson Taylor.

The Journey to Crafting the Modern Peerless Bourbon

The road to reintroducing the Peerless bourbon wasn’t an easy one – it required grit, determination, and an unshakable resolve to stay true to age-old bourbon making traditions.

Non-Chill Filtered Bourbon – The First Roadblock

One of the first challenges was the decision to produce non-chill filtered bourbon. The justification? Taste. While a majority of bourbons on the market are chill-filtered to remove fatty acids and maintain clarity, the process also strips away a good portion of the flavor profile. Peerless decided to ditch the chilling entirely, choosing to preserve the authentic taste even if it meant taking on a cloudier appearance. A gutsy move but one that certainly drew in those who appreciate quality over appearances.

Sourcing the Best Grains and Investing in Barrels

Quality grains and barrels form the base of an excellent bourbon. Rather than opting for mass-produced, inexpensive options, Peerless chose to use carefully selected, rich grains and freshly charred white oak barrels to construct their fine bourbon. An undertaking that was time-consuming and expensive, but pivotal to their path to creating an artisan craft bourbon.

Reviving the Sweet Mash Process

Given a choice between easy or hard, Peerless routinely chose the latter. Among other examples of this habit stands their decision to use fresh grains for each batch, effectively prioritizing the sweet mash process, as opposed to the sour mash process favoured by modern distillers for its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Yet again, the goal was to deliver a superior taste, even if it meant burning the midnight oil.

Low Barrel Entry-Proof

Lastly, Peerless chose to enter their bourbon in the barrel at 107 proof, far lower than the industry maximum of 125 proof. This choice not only costs more – needing more barrels as less water is added to reduce the proof prior to bottling – but also yields a bourbon with a taste smoother and fuller than the competition.

Reaping the Rewards

It may have been a long, challenging journey but the tireless efforts and dedication to quality of the Peerless team have certainly paid off. Today, the Peerless bourbon captivates the palates of bourbon enthusiasts, with its deep burnished gold colour, inviting nose, and rich, layered flavours.

Taking the Road Less Traveled

The tale of Peerless Distilling Co. isn’t just about making bourbon. It’s about honouring a legacy, restoring the values of a golden era, and challenging the norm to craft a bourbon truly peerless. It is a testament to the fact that taking the path of most resistance may be challenging but it also holds the potential of yielding exceptional rewards.

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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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