Peerless Distilling Co.

Planting green corn seeds in fertile soil

Bourbon is booming. It’s about time, isn’t it? Being from Kentucky, the growing press and intense interest in our state’s greatest gift to the world seems almost like old news. This is part of the fiber of our bluegrass, the distinctive cloth of our home. And with this tradition of distillation comes a storied history, families who have built and passed the trade of making bourbon down generation after generation. Prohibition put an unfortunate end to all too many of these lineages; time heals all wounds however, and when something is in your blood, it takes far more than a ban on liquor to extinguish the flames of a family legacy. Such is the case with Corky and Carson Taylor, fourth and fifth generation members of the Peerless Distilling family.

Caleb Kilburn on the left - Distiller - and Carson Taylor, President 5th Generation

Caleb Kilburn on the left – Distiller – and Carson Taylor, President 5th Generation

Purchased in 1889 by Henry Karver, Carson’s Great-Great-Grandfather, Peerless Distilling was located in Henderson, Kentucky. Under his watch Peerless grew to produce over 10,000 barrels per year and would have likely continued to prosper if it weren’t for the war abroad and the war against liquor that befell our country in the early 1900’s. Carson and his father Corky made the determination to rebuild their family’s legacy in Louisville, selecting an old brick warehouse on the corner of 10th and Main Street as the new home for Peerless. I arrived for my tour of Peerless on a rainy day, driving straight over the great Ninth Street divide, thinking to myself how wonderful it is to see new businesses breaking down this invisible wall. Upon entry, the column still is the first thing I see, visible through a chain of windows, the still stretching tall to the ceiling beyond, a formidable tower of sleek copper crafted by Kentuckians on Kentucky soil at Vendome Copper and Brass.

Peerless Outside peerless barrel.

What is immediately striking about Peerless is that it is indeed a fully functioning distillery, right smack in the middle of downtown Louisville. From grain to barrel to bottle, every single step of the bourbon-making process is taking place under the 110 year old roof. The building itself is an impressive reuse of space, originally home to a tobacco company and then a slew of other industrial means, Carson and his Father saw the potential in the expansive warehouse, which was in near ruins when they acquired it as the home of Peerless’ rebirth. A woodworker by trade, the vast amount of redesign and disrepair was no deterrent to Carson, who envisioned the entire layout, design and style of the space, maintaining the feel of the building’s industrial birth while re-purposing hardwood floors into the tasting room bar, styling vast beams around door frames and adding interior windows and portholes wherever possible. If there is one thing that Carson wanted to make clear it was this: there are no smoke and mirrors at Peerless. What you see is what you get, they have nothing to hide. The tour drives this point home indeed, weaving through the large and colorful gift shop to the expansive open room housing the cooker and fermenting vats. This isn’t the showroom, it is the entire fleet of distillation tanks owned by Peerless and where all of the action takes place.

A moderately sized and very sleek computer screen resides next to the cooker, keeping meticulous records of the production process. This is Peerless’ digital cookbook and the mother of all distillation computer systems. Carson and his compatriots had the system designed to their exact specifications, comforted by the knowledge that the temperatures are being controlled to near perfection around the clock, the mash bill measured just as planned, every single time. Speaking of the mash bill, Peerless’ foregoes the use of wheat in their recipe, simply because Carson and his Father don’t have a penchant for wheated bourbons. We make our way down a level past the underside of the tanks and head to the area housing the column still, Carson making note as we walk that there are portholes carved into the side of each vessel, giving everyone a peek at what’s inside; after all they don’t have anything to hide.

As we approach the still we find Caleb, the head Distiller who has a bright smile and is all of 24 years old. A Kentucky native, he is quick to share that he is living his dream, fulfilling a life’s passion. He came onto the Peerless Team in the early stages, helping out with construction of the facility and the beginnings of the distillation design. Having grown up on a dairy farm, much of the mechanics of distillation mirrored that of what was already in his blood; coupled with his knack for chemistry and a love of our state’s bourbon tradition and the Taylors knew he was the right man to help bring their family’s bourbon business out of retirement. Caleb offered that they are very pleased with the progress of both the bourbon and rye thus far, this sentiment shared by several notable aficionados who have been lucky enough to sample what has been resting in the barrel for a mere six months. Indeed bourbon and rye requires age and does not simply happen over night. We will not be able to taste this carefully crafted liquor until April of 2017 for the rye and we’ll have to wait until 2019 to see how the bourbon comes together. Could they have purchased bulk bourbon to put in a bottle with their name on it? Sure; but that would go against everything Carson and Corky stand for, a direct contradiction to the ethos of their passion project. Carson wants everyone to know that if it is happening at Peerless his hands have touched it, his mind has been a part of its development. No detail is too small and his obsession is clear.

In lieu of mass-produced bourbon they opted to make moonshine to sell until their signature product is available. Bottled at a decidedly low proof, the bite of this moonshine is softened and spiked with a variety of flavors. It is bottled on site in beautiful glass containers made an hour up the road in Indiana. Most of what you see in Peerless is crafted within the state if not close by, the grain for the mash procured on Main Street from Consolidated Grain, the stillage leftover after fermentation sent back to a local farm for use as feed. We take a look at the bottling line, glasses of brightly hued moonshine being filled and labeled with the brand name Lucky chosen by Carson’s wife because, as Carson put it ‘who doesn’t want to get lucky or be lucky?’

After a stroll through the barrel room we end our tour in the tasting space and I am lucky enough to sample this approachable and deftly flavored moonshine, not at all the moonshine I remember wincing over after sipping suspiciously clear liquid from an old mason jar. Carson moves behind the bar pouring my samples as if he is in his own kitchen, hopping on the counter and swinging his legs in the manner one only does when he feels completely at home. This is his dream after all, a reality of his conjuring. Only time will tell if the resurrection of his family business will reestablish their place as bourbon royalty; however when you pour this much passion, patience and love into something it is more often than not, a recipe for success.

A special thanks to our presenting sponsor Peerless Distilling Company for Slow Food Bluegrass’s 2nd Annual Fried Chicken Throw Down. Peerless is proud to be a family owned company with a storied history in the bourbon industry. They are committed to keeping everything local! Cheers to a good, clean, fair bourbon and moonshine distillery.


We hope you will join us for our 2nd Annual Fried Chicken Throw Down!

We hope you will join us for our 2nd Annual Fried Chicken Throw Down!

Fried Chicken Throwdown



Curried Chestnuts Recipe

Curried Chestnuts:

  • 1 Pound of chestnuts
  • ½ cup onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 Tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chutney
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cook the chopped onions in the butter until they are tender and slightly browned. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle the onions with the flour and curry powder together using a sifter or a strainer. Add the tomato puree, apple, chutney, and brown sugar. Gradually stir in the water and cook over low heat until the sauce gradually thickens and boils. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

    Prepare the chestnuts: To prepare chestnuts in the shell, use a sharp knife and slice an “X” into the convex side of the nut. Cover the nuts with boiling salted water and cook them for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat but leave the chestnuts immersed in water. Remove the chestnuts one at a time and discard the shells and inner linings. The edges where you made your slits will have turned out a bit, which makes removing the shells a lot easier. You can also bake them at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes with the slit side up.

    Arrange the cooked and shelled chestnuts on a buttered baking dish and stir in the curry sauce. Cover the dish tightly and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with rice or couscous.

    The Gardens to Open in Paristown Pointe Neighborhood


    Boutique nursery to be open to the public.

    Louisville, KY – March 31, 2014 – Henry|McGalliard Landscape Design Studio and Gardens at 711 Brent Street, Louisville, KY 40204 will be open to the public, beginning April 3, 2014. Retail hours: Wednesday – Friday 10 am – 6 pm & Saturday 10 am – 5 pm

    Henry|McGalliard is incorporating a garden boutique into its repertoire of offerings. The Gardens will focus on providing customers and design clients with a focused selection of specimen plants, trees and garden elements, in an urban setting. “This unique nursery will provide everyone with the same high-end plants, great plant material and interesting garden elements that we offer to our design clients. We also envision this as a space for events, gatherings and workshops.” according to partner and designer, Patrick Henry. Customers can expect to find a selection of large and small specimen trees and shrubs, such as 14’ tall Hinoki Cypress and 20 year old Japanese Maples, to a few select perennials, herbs and native plants.

    The Henry | McGalliard Gardens, also referred to as The Gardens, will be located in the historic Paristown Pointe, next to Stoneware Art Factory and across from The Cafe’. “We are excited. In addition to offering unique plant selections not found in typical nurseries, The Gardens will also give us the flexibility to better control the quality throughout all aspects of our larger design projects and installations. We’re also very excited about helping to revitalize this historic corner of Louisville.” according to co-owner Scott McGalliard.
    Henry | McGalliard is a landscape design, site construction, garden installation and maintenance company who’s goal is to create great spaces for people to enjoy. Good design principals influence how we execute all stages of our work. Adherence to tried and true construction methods and unique plantings and garden elements allow us to bring our creations and ideas to reality.

    For more information visit or

    Movie Screening: American Meat


    Join Slow Food Bluegrass for a screening of American Meat, a pro-farmer film that asks the question: Can the Local Food movement really feed us all?
    The event is free to Slow Food members and $10 for non-members. Sign up for membership by clicking here or purchase membership at the door, where your $10 admission can be credited toward your membership.
    We’ll serve Foxhollow Popcorn and Roobie Red Tea!
    Thank you to our partners Rainbow Blossom, Foxhollow Farm, Roobie Red Tea, and the Local Food Association.


    Join us on Facebook!

    Foxhollow Farm Fall Festival


    Come out to Foxhollow Farm’s Fall Festival!

    Saturday, October 23th 11am-6pm