Kentucky Tavern Whiskey BIB Pint 1911-1924 Green Wax Seal


SPIRIT: Bourbon

VOLUME: 1 Pint

ABV/PROOF: 50/100

AGE:  13 years

 Today Kentucky Tavern is a barely remarked upon, bottom-shelf whiskey distilled at the Barton distillery, which sits on the southern side of Bardstown and is owned by Sazerac. But this wasn’t always the case. 

At the beginning of Prohibition, Kentucky Tavern ranked among the leading names distilled at a different distillery, Glenmore, located in Owensboro, a few hours west of Louisville. It was already among the biggest and most renowned distilleries in the state by the time Kentucky Tavern first appeared in 1903. Previously known as R. Monarch, its owners had gone bankrupt in 1898, allowing an enterprising Irish immigrant named James Thompson to step in, rename it, and launch a new set of brands. 

Like many whiskeys bottled under Prohibition, this bottle of Kentucky Tavern one speaks volumes about the ways the Kentucky distilling industry squeaked by in a world where they were not allowed to carry out their core activity. Only a few, including Glenmore, were allowed to sell (and later produce, in small quantities), whiskey for “medicinal” purposes. Like many other Prohibition-era bottles, this one gives the distiller’s name – H.S. (Harry) Barton – but not the distillery that actually made it. 

It also bears mentioning that despite its intended purpose as medicine, this bottle of Kentucky Tavern boasts of all the things that make for an enjoyable sipping whiskey: its 13-year age statement, its bottled-in-bond status, and its “absolutely pure” character. It even comes in a box fitted with a photo of the distillery – hardly the sort of thing needed to sell cough medicine.

Producer: Barton

Misc.: While Prohibition was supposedly aimed at producers and distributors, not consumers, this whiskey’s status as “medicinal” allowed for a further prohibition against misusing it for non-medical purposes – with “very heavy penalties” as punishment.

Collectors’ tips: The box, with its photo of the distillery, makes this an even more intriguing item.

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