As a descendant of two U.S. presidents, James Madison and Zachary Taylor, you might say that E.H. Taylor, Jr. had leadership and ambition in his blood. While Madison went down in history as the “Father of the Constitution,” E.H. Taylor, Jr. sealed his own prestigious legacy as the “Father of the Modern Bourbon Industry.”
Taylor is celebrated for the countless innovations he contributed to the bourbon industry in his time. His first involvement in the industry came as a banker, aiding in the organization and financing of several distilleries. Through his experience as a banker, Taylor became personally acquainted with several prominent whiskey makers. Taylor’s 1870 purchase of a small Leestown distillery that he christened O.F.C. was his foray into distilling, making an immediate mark on the industry by modernizing, expanding and upgrading the plant. Among his innovations were copper fermentation tanks, state-of-the-art grain equipment, column stills, modernized buildings, a more efficient sour mash technique and a first-of-its-kind steam heating system still used in the warehouses today.
Also a skilled politician, Taylor was instrumental in fighting for higher standards in the bourbon industry, pushing for the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. As if his involvement in the bourbon industry weren’t enough, Taylor served as mayor of Frankfort for sixteen years.
The O.F.C. Distillery was purchased by George T. Stagg in 1878 and remains an integral part of Buffalo Trace’s history. Taylor is remembered as the last of a breed, a true bourbon aristocrat who was responsible for linking the classic and modern eras of bourbon.