From Seed to Sip, the Making of Peerless Bourbon
For over a century, Peerless Distilling Company in Louisville, Kentucky had been dormant. Established in 1889 by founder Henry Kraver, the distillery produced whiskey until it was shuttered during Prohibition. In 2015, Kraver’s great-grandson, Corky Taylor, breathed new life into the distillery and began the process of reviving the family business.
One of the most significant things to note about Peerless bourbon is the way in which the company sources its grains. Unlike many other distilleries, Peerless grows all of its grains on-site. The process begins each year in late winter when the team at Peerless starts planting. They grow three different types of grains: corn, rye, and malted barley.
The soil in Kentucky is a crucial factor in whiskey production. Peerless’ land provides a fertile environment for growing their grains, rich in minerals and nutrients like limestone and iron, providing the perfect conditions for healthy crops. The company also plants cover crops such as clovers and peas to replenish the soil.
Water is the second most important ingredient in whiskey, after the grains. Peerless sources its water from an underground aquifer, which provides a consistent source of water free from impurities. This water is crucial to the flavor profile of Peerless bourbon.
Once harvested, the grains are milled on-site. Then, they’re moved to the mashing stage, where they’re mixed with the limestone-rich water and heated. This process creates a slurry that is then pumped into the fermenter. Peerless uses a proprietary yeast strain that is carefully maintained to preserve the unique flavor profile of their bourbon.
After fermentation, the mash is distilled twice in Peerless’ copper pot stills. This type of still allows for more control over the distillation process and results in a bourbon that is smoother and richer.
The Barrel Aging
After distillation, the bourbon is transferred to new charred white oak barrels and placed in Peerless’ rickhouse to age. One of the unique things about Peerless is that they never move their barrels during the aging process. This is quite unusual as most distilleries rotate the barrels to ensure consistency in aging. However, Peerless believes that leaving the barrels undisturbed allows for a more constant temperature and humidity, leading to a better final product.
In a world where most whiskey brands use outside sources for their raw ingredients, Peerless has taken the path of most resistance by controlling the entire process from seed to sip. The result of their hard work and dedication is a bourbon that is truly unique and representative of its Kentucky origins. Peerless bourbon has won numerous awards and accolades, solidifying its status as one of the best bourbons in the world. It’s exciting to see what the future holds for this long-dormant distillery.