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The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery
RD #52, 7 th District
Woodford County, KY



The history of this distillery comes from the Coyte papers, cited in OASG (1988).

ca. 1800: Elijah Pepper and his brother--in-law, a Mr. O'Bannon, operated a distillery in Versailles, the current site of the court house.

1817: The partnership dissolved and Elijah Pepper relocated the distillery to a location on Glenn's Creek, five miles NW of Versailles.

1838: Oscar Pepper, Elijah's son, had by now inherited the distillery and established the Old Oscar Pepper brand. Pepper's distiller since 1820 had been James Crow, whose expertise ensured that the brand was highly successful.

1864: Oscar Pepper died and his estate was handled on behalf of his young son (James E Pepper) by E H Taylor Jr.

1874: Taylor rebuilt the plant and continued to run it.

1878: The distillery was sold to Leopold Labrot and James H Graham of Frankfort. Graham was plant manager, Labrot was in charge of sales, and they continued producing Old Oscar Pepper as their only brand.

1892: Insurance underwriter records locate the distillery 9 miles SE of Frankfort. They suggest that the distillery was built of stone with a metal or slate roof. The property included a granary with two corn cribs, plus four bonded warehouses, all stone with metal or slate roofs:
Warehouse No. 1 A -- 100 ft north of the still. Part of this warehouse was Free.
Warehouse No. 2 B -- adjoining No. 1 A, 100 ft NE of the still
Warehouse No. 3 C -- 104 ft south of the still.
Warehouse No. 4 D -- 285 ft south of the still.

At that time, it was being operated by Labrot & Graham.

1900: James Graham died but Labrot continued operating the distillery on his own.

1915: Labrot & Graham were succeeded by Labrot & Graham Inc., a new company consisting of T W Hinde of Chicago, D K Weiskopf of the Republic Distributing Co. in Cincinnati, Richard A (Alexander) Baker, who was Labrot's son-in-law and cousin to E H Taylor Jr. (note that Bakers are mentioned in the warehouse logs below: Irma Baker was Leopold's daughter), and Carl Weitzel of Chicago.

1918: Prohibition caused the distillery to close and the warehouses were emptied, the stocks of whiskey being moved to concentration warehouses and sold for medicinal purposes by Frankfort Distillery.

1935: The distillery was rebuilt by R A Baker and others, operating as Labrot & Graham, and was purchased by Brown-Forman in 1940. It was idled for many years, but now produces "Woodford Reserve,"

Thanks to Harry Martin for providing some of the family details reproduced here

Review bonded warehouse transactions for this distillery

Internal Revenue recorded warehouse transactions for The Old Oscar Pepper Distillery as follows:
( explain: origin of these records, letter codes )

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