Owensboro’s bourbon history is rich, thanks to its proximity to a rail line and busy waterway, a limestone water source and vast oak forests, and hardworking grain farmers. O.Z. Tyler Distillery opened in 2016 after a $25 million renovation of the 26-acre business, which dates back to 1885.
Beginning at a site on the Green River in 1880, Monarch Distillery moved to O.Z. Tyler’s current location in Owensboro and honored its roots by being renamed Green River Distillery. After fire destroyed the property in 1918 and Prohibition kept the industry idle from 1920-1933, the Kentucky Sour Mash Distilling Co. rebuilt at the location but went bankrupt almost immediately. In 1939 several Medley family members bought the facility and named it Charles W. Medley Distillers Kentucky, which changed hands a few times until it closed in 1993 and sat idle until 2014, when a subsidiary of Terrassentia, TerrePURE Kentucky Distillers Inc., purchased the 26-acre business. Terrassentia, a South Carolina distillery specializes in contract production of distilled spirits for large retail chains, individual brand owners and other distilleries or exporters.
The extensive $25 million renovation on the property included 6 warehouses and a 54-inch column still capable of producing 32,000 barrels a year.
Founded on the idea that technology can greatly improve both quality and taste of distilled spirits, entrepreneurial Terressentia has implemented its patented TerrePURE filtration process at O.Z. Tyler that uses natural ultrasonic energy to filter out impurities in bourbon. The product ages for a year and a day in a barrel and is then put into machines called “rosies.” This process makes the bourbon taste like a 4-year-old bourbon instead of a 1-year-old.
In 2017, the prestigious Kentucky Distillers Association named O.Z. Tyler a Heritage member of its organization, the highest level of membership, one that’s based on volume produced. A production of 95,000-plus barrels of whiskey each year landed it amoung other Heritage members, such as Four Roses, Heaven Hill Brands, Wild Turkey and more. In June 2018, O.Z. Tyler became an official stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which is another incredible honor.
A tour at O.Z. Tyler can teach you every aspect of bourbon production, from grain to mash to barrel. Then, comes the really fun part, tasting the end products – O.Z. Tyler Bourbon Whiskey, O.Z. Tyler Rye Whiskey, and O.Z. Tyler Honey Flavored Bourbon Whiskey.
Coming soon in April 2020, O.Z. Tyler will be celebrating their new partnership with Duke Spirits and opening a John Wayne Experience and Duke Tasting Room. With this addition, the number of visitors to the distillery are expected to double or even triple from the past few years.