It’s been said that behind every great whiskey, is an even greater story. And for almost a decade, we’ve been obsessing over how to tell ours.
We knew that introducing the Bourbon community to a distiller as iconic as W.H. McBrayer, otherwise known as “The Judge,” would require a careful approach. After all, he was the man whose award-winning spirits “made the crowned heads of Europe turn from Scotch to Kentucky Bourbon.”
For us, the first step in honoring his history and influence on the industry was to make a legacy-crafted spirit that brought his name and his original mash bill back to life. And so W.H. McBrayer Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was born last April.
BRINGING BACK OLD MCBRAYER
Our inaugural release was only the beginning.
The next chapter of our story is the resurrection of another one of the oldest brands in the history of Kentucky Bourbon: Old McBrayer. Since learning about the original Old McBrayer Distillery, we’ve always known it would be our second release.
As we prepare to share Old McBrayer with the world, here’s a look at how it all came to be.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY
While W.H. was one of Kentucky’s most influential distillers, he wasn’t the only McBrayer known for making “the perfect batch of whiskey.” In fact, his second cousin, Captain John H. (J.H.) McBrayer was also a well-known distiller in Anderson County, where the McBrayer family legacy first took root. Known as one of the most highly regarded citizens in the area, J.H. was a veteran of the Mexican War and the youngest Captain in the American army.
In 1870, J.H. purchased Distillery No. 17 from Howard, Barnes & Company. Located in New Market, Kentucky, DSP 17 was situated on the Old Levee Turnpike, just about a mile south of Mt. Sterling.
After operating Old McBrayer Distillery for a short period of time, he sold it to W.H. McBrayer. The distillery was then sold to W.W. Johnson in 1881, and in 1885, it went on to be purchased by none other than Colonel E.H. Taylor, who believed W.H. McBrayer made some of the best whiskey in the region.
Prior to Prohibition, Old McBrayer Distillery had three warehouses and the capacity for some 42,000 barrels. However, with the great dry spell, the distillery closed. But make no mistake—whiskey lovers still found a way to get their hands on Old McBrayer, they just needed a prescription to do it. Because Old McBrayer was purchased by the American Medicinal Company, it was widely marketed during Prohibition, making it a popular medicinal whiskey.
After Prohibition, the brand survived until the early 1980s, proving the McBrayer family name to be as strong as their beloved spirits.
A SOUGHT AFTER SPIRIT
Known for its superior quality and superb flavor, Old McBrayer was a classic spirit preferred by whiskey connoisseurs of a bygone era. Its reputation as one of the most coveted Bourbons of its time was so prominent, the brand has even appeared on the big (and little) screen.
Featured in the 1987 gangster classic “The Untouchables” and in HBO’s popular western series “Deadwood,” Old McBrayer Bourbon was one of the most sought-after whiskeys of its time.
BRANDING THE NEW OLD MCBRAYER
So how do we introduce Old McBrayer to Bourbon fans today, while honoring the integrity and character of the original? The answer, it turns out, was relatively simple: Let the past be our guide as we look to the future.
This meant pouring ourselves into research and analyzing the details found in the earliest bottles of Old McBrayer, which date back to before Prohibition. The Seal of Kentucky offers a glimpse into crafting Bourbon during one of the most unique times in U.S. history, an era that forever changed the face of American whiskey. As the earliest labels recall, Old McBrayer was one of the “oldest brands in existence” and a charter member of “The Real Old Fashioned Bourbons of Kentucky.” The revival of this brand is our tribute to a legacy that runs deep.
From the fonts we used to the colors and border on the label, it was our goal for the bottle to look and feel like vintage Old McBrayer—but with its own special spin on one of Kentucky’s greatest stories.
WITH EACH SIP, OUR LEGACY LIVES ON.
If there’s anything we love more than sharing these stories with you, it’s the whiskey itself. There’s nothing like crafting spirits that keep the McBrayer family legacy alive, and we can’t wait to introduce you to Old McBrayer.
Like the original, it’s been distilled, aged and Bottled-in-Bond in the heart of the Bluegrass region—the birthplace of the world’s finest quality Bourbon. It’s a traditional Bourbon with a mash bill of 70% yellow corn, 18% rye and 12% barley. Paying careful attention to the details found on original bottles, the new Old McBrayer is a nod to the past that’s not afraid to look to the future.
Old McBrayer Bourbon was recently released in limited quantities. All orders of Old McBrayer Bourbon and W.H. McBrayer Bourbon must be made online through our store. To be notified of pre-sale opportunities to purchase our Bourbons in the future, we strongly recommend you join our Legacy Club.