The history of 1865

The first federally registered distillery in Lexington, Kentucky

A Snapshot

In 1865, the first federal registered distillery in Lexington, Kentucky (Ashland Distillery) was given the designation of “RD#1” for tax district #7. Later purchased by William Tarr and renamed the William Tarr Distillery, this was a powerhouse producer for numerous whiskey brands up until prohibition.

A decade after inception, the distillery was ravaged by fire and destroyed. But this dramatic setback didn’t stop these entrepreneurs. The distillery was rebuilt even larger with additional barrel warehouses and an on-site cooperate. The distillery was an anchor business for the Lexington area economy, providing jobs, purchasing corn from local farmers and providing additional feed for cattle farms.

In 1897, owner William Tarr became enamored with railroad growth and began focusing time and investments here. Ultimately, the distillery went up for auction and ownership would transfer several more times.

Prohibition closed the distillery doors in 1919, but locks didn’t stop masked thieves from raiding the warehouse a year later. Years later, another fire damaged the grounds. Today, the Manchester Music Hall sits on what remains of the old distillery.

If you’re just as enamored by this story as we are, we invite you to learn even more here.