Old Distillery Finds New Spirit: Holladay Distillery is the Oldest Distillery West of the Mississippi that’s still at its Original Site
Bourbon is an all-American spirit, and it is generally agreed around the world that any product sold as “bourbon” must be produced in the United States. Although many identify the beverage with Kentucky, its history in Missouri goes back just as far. Living proof of this exists in the historic Holladay Distillery, constructed in Weston in the 1800s.
The distillery has been located at the same site since it was established in 1856 by brothers, and Kentucky natives, Ben and David Holladay. Holladay Distillery is the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi that’s still at its original site. The brothers recognized that the abundance of limestone springs in the area made it perfect for bourbon production.
Holladay Distillery hasn’t forgotten its roots. Though it took a 30-year break from producing bourbon, current owners McCormick Distilling Company resumed production in 2015, using Ben Holladay’s original 1856 recipe. The first batch of the rebooted bourbon will be released in May 2022. It will officially qualify as both Missouri Bourbon (a state classification) and Bottled-in-Bond (a federal certification) -- meaning that every step of the production process is Missouri-based and meets the federal quality regulation requirements for certification.
And with the distillery in its original location, its rich history is apparent in more than just the bourbon. Holladay is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Interested customers have always loved touring the 160 acres of beautiful rolling hills, limestone springs, and distillery facilities. The history and tradition of the distillery resonate with a lot of people.
Unfortunately, the Holladay Distillery was one of the millions of businesses that had to make the difficult decision to close its doors to the public in March 2020. They have not been able to reopen for consistent tours ever since. “The safety and well-being of our employees and guests have always been our top priority and will continue to be,” says Jordan Germano, communications manager at McCormick Distilling Company. “We look forward to reopening our doors to the public for tours as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.”
Everyone at the Holladay Distillery has missed sharing their passion for what they do with visiting members of the public. Still, they know that tours will be every bit as magical when they are eventually able to resume. As Jordan stated, “It is our passion to develop and produce quality premium products for our customers to enjoy. We appreciate the brand loyalty of our customers and work every day at keeping the history and traditions of our business alive.”
“[Holladay] has changed hands several times over the years and was acquired by the current ownership group in 1993,” said Jordan. McCormick operates the Holladay Distillery. “Over the last several years, the leadership team has worked to build the business by developing a strong portfolio of premium brands.”
This quite impressive portfolio includes brands like Five Farms Irish Cream, Tequila Rose, Whicked Pickle (pickle-flavored whiskey) and, 360 Vodka.
In 2007, the company began a number of “green initiatives” to make business and production practices more environmentally friendly. As part of this effort, they decided to create a vodka that would be sustainable and eco-friendly, and 360 Vodka was the result.
Green New Spirits
The vodka is made from locally-sourced and sustainably-farmed grain, using energy-efficient distillation processes, and any leftover grains are dried and sent to local farms for feed. In addition, the bottles are made from recycled glass, designed to be reused, with labels printed on recycled paper using eco-friendly ink.
According to Jordan, the vodka is “crafted to be as good for the planet as it is to drink.” He believes the vodka is wildly popular both for its premium flavors, of which there are more than a dozen, and for its environmental mission: “Our customers appreciate the premium taste of 360 Vodka as well as the green initiatives behind the brand.”
Weston, MO 64098