The Blog

Castle & Key – a Kentucky Castle and Bourbon Distillery
A trip to Kentucky is never complete without a visit to a Bourbon distillery and we went to the best in town: Castle & Key Distillery. Four years ago, these gorgeous grounds were buried beneath years of foliage before two businessmen turned the historic property back into a distillery. Established in the late 1800’s by E.H. Taylor, the former Old Taylor Distillery was abandon in 1972 but has since been restored and ready to re-open.

Admiring Mount Fuji in Japan

Castle & Key – a Kentucky Castle and Bourbon Distillery

Written by Megan Marie

In
A trip to Kentucky is never complete without a visit to a Bourbon distillery and we went to the best in town: Castle & Key Distillery. Four years ago, these gorgeous grounds were buried beneath years of foliage before two businessmen turned the historic property back into a distillery. Established in the late 1800’s by E.H. Taylor, the former Old Taylor Distillery was abandon in 1972 but has since been restored and ready to re-open.

Castle & Key Distillery

Getting There

Touring Castle & Key Distillery was an experience like no other. We received a curated guest experience where we had the pleasure of enjoying a 1.5 hour tour of the castle grounds and gardens, learned about the distilling and barreling process, and tasted their Gin and Vodka first-hand.

I’d never visited Kentucky before so when my good friend Katie, who’s sister works at Castle & Key, invited me to take a tour of this breathtaking distillery, I could not resist. Prior to their opening day on September 19th, Castle & Key hosted a Family and Friends event where we explored the distillery together.

Castle & Key Distillery is by far the most beautiful distillery I’ve ever laid eyes on. Brandished with historic charm, the distillery grounds boast a classic elegance that is both rustic and romantic. The grounds are almost entirely resorted, with the exception of a few untouched areas that serve as a reminder of the grounds’ origins.

As we pulled up to the entrance, I immediately noticed the contrast of rustic, industrial designs amidst a glorious, European influenced Castle. To say I was excited to begin our tour would be a huge understatement!

Castle & Key Distillery Entrance

Castle & Key Distillery Aesthetics
Touring the distillery
Castle & Key Distillery
Castle & Key Distillery
Street Food Tour in Hanoi
Castle & Key Distillery

To our surprise, we found that inside the actual “castle” was where the tanks that held fermenting mash for soon-to-be bourbon were housed.

Our Private Tour

Our tour started and ended in a beautiful brick room that doubled as both the lobby and the gift shop. As we waited for the rest of our group to arrive, Katie and I briefly browsed the gift shop looking for souvenirs that we already knew we would splurge on after the tour!

Our tour guide for the day was Alex, who was also the Castle & Key concierge. She was extremely informative and enthusiastic about Castle & Key and her in-depth knowledge and passion of the grounds showed us just how involved each of the staff members are in Castle & Key’s unique history.

Alex greeted us with the friendliest smile before beginning a brief introduction of Castle & Key and bringing us to the Spring House, which reminded me a lot of the Roman and Greek architecture I saw in Europe. The Spring House, which was filled with cool water from an underground aquifer, was shaped like a keyhole, which is where the “key” in Castle & Key originates from.

After learning about the Spring House, we strolled past the start of the Botanical Trail, which is a scenic, self-guided walk along Glenns Creek, and stepped into the Castle itself.

To our surprise, we found that inside the actual “castle” was where the tanks that held fermenting mash for soon-to-be bourbon, whiskey, rye, gin, and vodka were housed. We learned that most of the original equipment, including the fermenting tanks, could be saved and put to use, despite the long period of time the area was abandon.

Remember the stunning Spring House mentioned above? The cool water from the Spring House is actually pumped into coils within the fermenting tanks and used to cool the mash to a certain temperature during hotter months. I found it extremely interesting seeing that much of the natural resources around the castle grounds could be leveraged to support the distillery.

The Key Shaped Spring
Castle & Key Distillery
Exploring the beautiful Castle & Key Grounds
Barrels at Castle & Key Distillery
Where the barrels are housed and aged
The event center at Castle & Key Distillery

The Castle Grounds

Upon exiting the castle, we were brought to the sensational “Sunken Garden.” The garden, in addition to the gorgeous Spring House, reminded me so much of Europe and I was immediately taken back to memories of both Italy and France, strolling through the gardens of Versailles and admiring ancient Roman ruins.

We were taken aback when we learned that the garden is named the “Sunken Garden” because it was previously uncovered in the excavation and renovation of the distillery grounds.

Looking back to admire the castle grounds among the foliage was such a lovely site to see and one of my favorite parts of the tour was sauntering through the Sunken Garden.

After our time in the gardens, we headed to the event space, where many glorious weddings and events are hosted. We could only imaging how romantic a wedding would be in the Sunken Garden and rustic events center.

In the event space, our tour guide pointed out that all of Castle & Key’s barrels have gold rings around them. As opposed to the usual brass rings, Castle & Key’s gold rings were designed to distinguish it’s liquor from competitors. Even back in the 1800’s, E.H. Taylor was quite the marketer and businessman!

Just outside the event space stood a deteriorating, brick building. There was something about the contrast of the deteriorating buildings among newly renovated spaces that made Castle & Key so unique. It was as if we were peaking through a window to the past and seeing what the grounds were like when the Old Taylor Distillery was still in operation.

Castle & Key actually uses this space to grow their own herbs and in front of the deteriorating building above, you will see fresh herbs growing in a small garden nestled between the rubble.

As we walked past the herb garden, I couldn’t help but take pictures of the remaining untouched buildings from the Old Taylor Distillery. If you look closely in the image above, you can actually see curtains from the 1980’s on the window against the back wall!

Our last stop on the tour before the tasting was the longest and largest warehouse I’ve ever seen. At 548 feet long, the warehouse, also known as the “Man Eater” for its single entry and exit points, houses thousands and thousands of highly anticipated aging barrels from both Castle & Key and other distilleries as well.

Admiring Petra's Treasury

Enjoying a tasting at Castle & Key Distillery

Enjoying Drinks At The Distillery

Castle & Key Tasting

The warehouse was our last stop on the tour before we made our way to a well deserved gin and vodka tasting. Unfortunately, the Bourbon and Rye have a few more years to age before Castle & Key can begin selling the liquor, but I highly recommend the vodka and gin as it was extremely delicious!

We sat down with our group for the tasting at a cozy bar just outside the gift shop while our tour guide began briefing us on the two cocktails that we would taste that day. One was a tangy Moscow Mule and the other was a simple yet classic Gin & Tonic. Both cocktails had a unique Castle & Key touch and taste, and Katie and I each took home a recipe to recreate later.

Our complimentary tasting was the best way to end an incredible, guided tour of Castle & Key Distillery. Before leaving, Katie and I browsed the gift shop and visited the Sunken Garden one last time to take in the stunning, picturesque view of Castle & Key among the gardens.

Katie and I were both guests on behalf of Katie’s lovely sister who works at Castle & Key. We attended a Family & Friends Event prior to opening-day and no compensation was received in return for this post and opinion. I genuinely and sincerely believe Castle & Key is one of the most beautiful distilleries I have ever been to and I want to thank Katie’s sister and the Castle & Key staff for sharing this incredible experience with us!

If you are interested in visiting this gorgeous distillery, I’d recommend booking an experience on their website. You can also read more about the founders and the incredible story that brought Castle & Key to life. Castle & Key’s grand opening is September 19th, 2018!

Related Articles

Related

Join now

Let's Dive In

Share your name and email address below to be added to our email list and stay up-to-date on the latest Texas Coastal Bend related activities and more.

8 + 1 =

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This