O.Z Tyler Distillery is no more.

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the 26-acre distillery at 10 Distillery Road in northwestern Owensboro will become Green River Distillery, the name it was born with in 1885.

From 1885 until it burned in 1918, John Wellington McCulloch’s Owensboro-based Green River Distilling Co. produced some of the best whiskey in Kentucky, bourbon historians say.

Now, after 102 years, the original name is back on the distillery.

Terressentia Corp., the South Carolina company that owns the distillery, said in a news release that getting the Green River name back on the distillery has been in the works for more than six years.

Simon Burch, the corporation’s CEO, said he worked closely with McCulloch’s great-grandson Rob McCulloch to rename the distillery.

McCulloch said in the news release, “I’ve always wanted the distillery’s name back at its original location in Owensboro. It completes the story my great-grandfather started in 1885.”

Announcement at 10:30 a.m.A formal announcement is planned for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, at the distillery.

“Green River was known for making some of the finest whiskey in Kentucky,” Jacob Call, master distiller of Green River Distilling Co., said in a news release. “We’re excited to be crafting bourbon and rye under the Green River flag again.”

Burch said, “We’re so grateful to Rob for sharing his family’s legacy with us and it’s a privilege to continue to build on the legacy that John McCulloch created. It’s particularly exciting to make this announcement during September, which is National Bourbon Heritage Month.”

Green River bourbon was billed as “The Whiskey Without A Headache” in the 19th century.

In 1893, McCulloch won a medal for excellence at the Chicago Colombian Exposition.

He took some of his whiskey to Europe and won a gold medal for quality at the Paris Exposition of 1900 and later the grand prize at the 1905 Exposition Universelle de Liege, Belgium.

He also took the grand prize at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon; at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis; and the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition in Norfolk, Virginia.

Green River was known as the “most expensive spirit ever sold,” after 20 barrels were traded for an interest in a Colorado gold mine.

But the distillery burned in 1918, with the loss of 43,000 barrels of whiskey.

Prohibition began before McCulloch could rebuild.

And he died in 1927 — six years before Prohibition ended.

The distillery was rebuilt in 1936 as the Medley Distillery.

It was called Charles Medley Distillers Kentucky when Terressentia bought it in 2014 and spent more than $20 million to get it in production again.

Today, the distillery is the westernmost point on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

The distillery has hired Owensboro artist Aaron Kizer as its creative director.

He has created several works of art to make “visitors feel like they are stepping back in time.”

The announcement said a limited release of Green River 4-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon will be available in 2021.

The newly renamed distillery is the fourth largest independent bourbon distillery in the United States.

Today, it produces 90,000 barrels of bourbon and rye a year.

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301


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