With a well-aged history rooted in the heart of Bourbon country, McBrayer Legacy Spirits revives a family recipe that has been stored away for more than 150 years.

1821 – 1839

A BOURBON LEGEND IS BORN

Our story begins in 1821 with the birth of W.H. McBrayer, one of 11 children born to a family of Scottish descent who were among the first settlers in Anderson County, Kentucky. Displaying an entrepreneurial spirit early on, W.H. went into the family store business at the age of 18, eventually buying out his brothers to become the sole proprietor. A successful cattle buyer as well, he ran the store for the next 30 years.

1821 – 1839

A BOURBON LEGEND IS BORN

Our story begins in 1821 with the birth of W.H. McBrayer, one of 11 children born to a family of Scottish descent who were among the first settlers in Anderson County, Kentucky. Displaying an entrepreneurial spirit early on, W.H. went into the family store business at the age of 18, eventually buying out his brothers to become the sole proprietor. A successful cattle buyer as well, he ran the store for the next 30 years.

1840 – 1848

THE PERFECT BATCH

The McBrayer family Legacy was known in the region for making the “perfect batch of whiskey.” W.H. continued the family tradition, purchasing the picturesque land with winding banks around Anderson County Cedar Creek. In 1844, it became the home of W.H. McBrayer’s Distillery #44 under the label “W.H. McBrayer Hand Made Sour Mash Whiskey.” In 1848, his 2nd cousin opened Distillery #125, known as the J.H. McBrayer Distillery, along Hammond’s Creek. As distilling dynasties began to form, the McBrayer name became known for making some of the highest quality products in Kentucky.

1840 – 1848

THE PERFECT BATCH

The McBrayer family Legacy was known in the region for making the “perfect batch of whiskey.” W.H. continued the family tradition, purchasing the picturesque land with winding banks around Anderson County Cedar Creek. In 1844, it became the home of W.H. McBrayer’s Distillery #44 under the label “W.H. McBrayer Hand Made Sour Mash Whiskey.” In 1848, his 2nd cousin opened Distillery #125, known as the J.H. McBrayer Distillery, along Hammond’s Creek. As distilling dynasties began to form, the McBrayer name became known for making some of the highest quality products in Kentucky.

1851 – 1857

“THE JUDGE” AND CEDAR BROOK

After being elected as Anderson County’s first judge, W.H. became known simply as “The Judge.” This moniker would follow him for the rest of his life — a reflection of his role as a beloved community leader. He went on to be elected to the Kentucky State Senate, but a busy political career never stopped him from building his whiskey business. W.H. was a newly elected senator when he began to give serious attention to his distillery. In 1856, he expanded operations. At the advice of his wife, Mary, The Judge made the decision to rename his distillery Cedar Brook. Cedar Brook would eventually grow to be a world-renowned brand with every bottle proudly displaying the McBrayer family name as a sign of best quality.

1851 – 1857

“THE JUDGE” AND CEDAR BROOK

After being elected as Anderson County’s first judge, W.H. became known simply as “The Judge.” This moniker would follow him for the rest of his life — a reflection of his role as a beloved community leader. He went on to be elected to the Kentucky State Senate, but a busy political career never stopped him from building his whiskey business. W.H. was a newly elected senator when he began to give serious attention to his distillery. In 1856, he expanded operations. At the advice of his wife, Mary, The Judge made the decision to rename his distillery Cedar Brook. Cedar Brook would eventually grow to be a world-renowned brand with every bottle proudly displaying the McBrayer family name as a sign of best quality.

1860 – 1870

DISTILLING
DREAMS

During the Civil War the Cedar Brook distillery continued to thrive, while the word of the Judges Bourbon spread throughout the country. Judge McBrayer’s success prompted him to partner with TP Ripy on distillery #112 in Tyrone, KY. Later he would sell his shares to his partner. In 1870 J.H. McBrayer established a new distillery in New Market, KY as Old McBrayer Distillery that would be purchased by W.H. a few years later.

1860 – 1870

DISTILLING
DREAMS

During the Civil War the Cedar Brook distillery continued to thrive, while the word of the Judges Bourbon spread throughout the country. Judge McBrayer’s success prompted him to partner with TP Ripy on distillery #112 in Tyrone, KY. Later he would sell his shares to his partner. In 1870 J.H. McBrayer established a new distillery in New Market, KY as Old McBrayer Distillery that would be purchased by W.H. a few years later.

1873 – 1878

BOURBON FIT FOR A KING

McBrayer’s whiskey reputation rose to new heights in 1873, winning a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Vienna. Three years later, McBrayer’s Bourbon also took home a gold medal at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, America’s first World’s Fair. Igniting global recognition, the brand and W.H. McBrayer put Kentucky Bourbon on the international map. Gaining worldwide fame for its superior quality, his Cedar Brook Bourbon became known as “the whiskey that made the crown heads of Europe turn from Scotch to Bourbon.”

1873 – 1878

BOURBON FIT FOR A KING

McBrayer’s whiskey reputation rose to new heights in 1873, winning a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Vienna. Three years later, McBrayer’s Bourbon also took home a gold medal at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, America’s first World’s Fair. Igniting global recognition, the brand and W.H. McBrayer put Kentucky Bourbon on the international map. Gaining worldwide fame for its superior quality, his Cedar Brook Bourbon became known as “the whiskey that made the crown heads of Europe turn from Scotch to Bourbon.”

1879 – 1884

BOTTLING
THE FUTURE

At the pinnacle of his success, the Judge always remained generous. To carry on the family’s birthright in distilling, he gifted his nephew and adopted son, Charles M. Dedman, with the land and funding needed to establish his very own distillery and Bourbon brand called Kentucky Owl. Soon after, he guided longtime employee, W.B. Saffell, in establishing his own distillery (originally as W.H. McBrayer, and later as W.B. Saffell). Both the Kentucky Owl and W.B. Saffell distilleries were created to proudly carry McBrayer’s Kentucky Bourbon legacy forward.

After purchasing the Old McBrayer Distillery, W.H. sold it to W.W. Johnson in Cincinnati who later sold it to E.H. Taylor in 1885. Old McBrayer became another premium brand which was purchased by the American Medicinal Company and widely marketed the brand during prohibition.

1879 – 1884

BOTTLING
THE FUTURE

At the pinnacle of his success, the Judge always remained generous. To carry on the family’s birthright in distilling, he gifted his nephew and adopted son, Charles M. Dedman, with the land and funding needed to establish his very own distillery and Bourbon brand called Kentucky Owl. Soon after, he guided longtime employee, W.B. Saffell, in establishing his own distillery (originally as W.H. McBrayer, and later as W.B. Saffell). Both the Kentucky Owl and W.B. Saffell distilleries were created to proudly carry McBrayer’s Kentucky Bourbon legacy forward.

After purchasing the Old McBrayer Distillery, W.H. sold it to W.W. Johnson in Cincinnati who later sold it to E.H. Taylor in 1885. Old McBrayer became another premium brand which was purchased by the American Medicinal Company and widely marketed the brand during prohibition.

Cedar Brook Distillery Boiler Room 1915

1885-1887

BARRING
IMITATION

To keep up with massive demand, production at McBrayer’s distillery skyrocketed to mashing 570 bushels per day. As his business continued to soar, others started to pirate the McBrayer name. In order to protect his now world-famous whiskey, W.H. released this statement and added his name to each Cedar Brook bottle:

Cedar Brook Distillery Boiler Room 1915

1885-1887

BARRING
IMITATION

To keep up with massive demand, production at McBrayer’s distillery skyrocketed to mashing 570 bushels per day. As his business continued to soar, others started to pirate the McBrayer name. In order to protect his now world-famous whiskey, W.H. released this statement and added his name to each Cedar Brook bottle:

I observe that many unscrupulous dealers are putting upon the market an inferior whiskey, branding the cases and labeling the bottles containing this stuff as McBrayer Whiskey, and in such a persistent and unblushing manner, that the abuse threatens to bring into unmerited disrepute my own genuine world-famous whiskey…

– W.H. McBrayer, published in Bonfort’s Wine and Spirits Circular, December, 10, 1882

I observe that many unscrupulous dealers are putting upon the market an inferior whiskey, branding the cases and labeling the bottles containing this stuff as McBrayer Whiskey, and in such a persistent and unblushing manner, that the abuse threatens to bring into unmerited disrepute my own genuine world-famous whiskey…

– W.H. McBrayer, published in Bonfort’s Wine and Spirits Circular, December, 10, 1882

1888

THE BEST THERE WAS IN HIM

While 1888 marked the end of The Judge’s life at age 67, his impact would influence generations to come. One admirer recalls, “Judge McBrayer was endowed with a noble mind, a clear, far-seeing brain and a strong, generous heart.” Whether as a Judge on the bench, a Legislator in the State Senate, a merchant, a cattle dealer or distiller, he gave the best there was in him — with the desire to treat everyone fairly and do justice to all. Following his death, The Judge’s son-in-law, D.L. Moore, and his three grandchildren took over the distillery, but this did not come without its share of controversy. In his will, W.H. requested that his name be stricken from the distillery business after three years. With the McBrayer name valued at over $200,000 at the time, the family appealed to the State Supreme Court, and the will was overruled. D.L. and the grandchildren were allowed to keep the McBrayer name associated with the Bourbon.

1888

THE BEST THERE WAS IN HIM

While 1888 marked the end of The Judge’s life at age 67, his impact would influence generations to come. One admirer recalls, “Judge McBrayer was endowed with a noble mind, a clear, far-seeing brain and a strong, generous heart.” Whether as a Judge on the bench, a Legislator in the State Senate, a merchant, a cattle dealer or distiller, he gave the best there was in him — with the desire to treat everyone fairly and do justice to all. Following his death, The Judge’s son-in-law, D.L. Moore, and his three grandchildren took over the distillery, but this did not come without its share of controversy. In his will, W.H. requested that his name be stricken from the distillery business after three years. With the McBrayer name valued at over $200,000 at the time, the family appealed to the State Supreme Court, and the will was overruled. D.L. and the grandchildren were allowed to keep the McBrayer name associated with the Bourbon.

1889-1922

BOTTLED EXCELLENCE QUIETLY RESTS

After running Cedar Brook for over 10 years, D.L. Moore and family sold the distillery to Julius Kessler and the Whiskey Trust. Building upon its reputation, Julius Kessler branded Cedar Brook as “The Most Famous Brand in the World,” which carried both Cedar Brook and W.H. McBrayer’s name. As with most of the distilleries at the time, Cedar Brook was shut down in 1922 due to Prohibition.

Only a few carefully preserved bottles, faded historical documents, and handwritten recipes remained tucked away in Kentucky and around the world, patiently awaiting rediscovery. They would wait for more than 90 years.

1889-1922

BOTTLED EXCELLENCE QUIETLY RESTS

After running Cedar Brook for over 10 years, D.L. Moore and family sold the distillery to Julius Kessler and the Whiskey Trust. Building upon its reputation, Julius Kessler branded Cedar Brook as “The Most Famous Brand in the World,” which carried both Cedar Brook and W.H. McBrayer’s name. As with most of the distilleries at the time, Cedar Brook was shut down in 1922 due to Prohibition.

Only a few carefully preserved bottles, faded historical documents, and handwritten recipes remained tucked away in Kentucky and around the world, patiently awaiting rediscovery. They would wait for more than 90 years.

2015-2019

A LEGACY
REBORN

To honor The Judge, and his world famous distilled products, The McBrayers are resurrecting the family business with Kentucky Bourbon – the global epicenter for Bourbon making. Respecting a legacy that dates back to 1844, the McBrayer family is honoring the Judge with the highest quality ingredients and modern distilling techniques to reintroduce him to the bourbon world. In 2016, McBrayer Legacy Spirits was created, built, and developed to introduce today’s Bourbon lover to a tradition of excellence handcrafted by The Judge himself over 175 years ago. We think you’ll agree it was well worth the wait.

WG McBrayer IV (Bill)

2015-2019

A LEGACY
REBORN

To honor The Judge, and his world famous distilled products, The McBrayers are resurrecting the family business with Kentucky Bourbon – the global epicenter for Bourbon making. Respecting a legacy that dates back to 1844, the McBrayer family is honoring the Judge with the highest quality ingredients and modern distilling techniques to reintroduce him to the bourbon world. In 2016, McBrayer Legacy Spirits was created, built, and developed to introduce today’s Bourbon lover to a tradition of excellence handcrafted by The Judge himself over 175 years ago. We think you’ll agree it was well worth the wait.

WG McBrayer IV (Bill)

WG McBrayer III (Bill Sr) and WG McBrayer IV (Bill)

2021

FIRST LIMITED RELEASE

McBrayer Legacy Spirits is set for its first limited release in early 2021, marking the bicentennial of The Judge’s birth. Very soon, Bourbon lovers worldwide will savor The Judge’s classic Bourbon, inspired by his batch that won the World’s Fair whiskey competition. Using a specially formulated yeast strain, limestone-filtered Kentucky River water and heirloom grains grown within 15 miles of the original distillery, the McBrayers will share a superior spirit that tells the story of the man who introduced Kentucky Bourbon to the world. Relax, take a sip and taste the revival of a Bourbon so rich with Kentucky history, it dates back more than 175 years.

WG McBrayer III (Bill Sr) and WG McBrayer IV (Bill)

2021

FIRST LIMITED RELEASE

McBrayer Legacy Spirits is set for its first limited release in early 2021, marking the bicentennial of The Judge’s birth. Very soon, Bourbon lovers worldwide will savor The Judge’s classic Bourbon, inspired by his batch that won the World’s Fair whiskey competition. Using a specially formulated yeast strain, limestone-filtered Kentucky River water and heirloom grains grown within 15 miles of the original distillery, the McBrayers will share a superior spirit that tells the story of the man who introduced Kentucky Bourbon to the world. Relax, take a sip and taste the revival of a Bourbon so rich with Kentucky history, it dates back more than 175 years.

WELCOME TO
THE FAMILY

#MCBRAYERLEGACY

For more than a century, the McBrayer family name meant great Bourbon. We invite you to join the McBrayer Legacy and become a member of the McBrayer Legacy Club. #McBrayerLegacy.

JOIN NOW

WELCOME TO
THE FAMILY

#MCBRAYERLEGACY

For more than a century, the McBrayer family name meant great Bourbon. We invite you to join the McBrayer Legacy and become a member of the McBrayer Legacy Club. #McBrayerLegacy.

JOIN NOW