Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Luxco, Limestone Branch Partnership Will Return Yellowstone Bourbon to Its Roots

Luxco, a St. Louis-based non-distiller producer (NDP), announced today that it will acquire a 50 percent equity position in Limestone Branch Distillery. The Lebanon, Kentucky distillery going forward will be operated jointly by the two companies. Limestone Branch was founded in 2011 by brothers Steve and Paul Beam.

Among other things, the deal will return the 143-year-old Yellowstone Bourbon brand to its Kentucky roots.

The Yellowstone brand was created by the wholesale firm of Taylor & Williams shortly after the national park was established in 1872. 'Taylor' was D. H. Taylor, who established the firm in Louisville in about 1865. J. T. Williams joined the company in 1877. Like Luxco, they were NDPs who bought whiskey from various distilleries.

Sometime in the 1880s, Taylor & Williams contracted with Joseph Bernard (J.B.) Dant to make Yellowstone bourbon for them. Dant had a new distillery in Nelson County, Kentucky, at Gethsemane Station near New Haven. It was called Cold Springs Distillery. In about 1903, Taylor & Williams merged with the Cold Springs Distillery. Dant became president and the distillery was renamed Yellowstone, as that brand had by then become very successful.

In 1910, Dant acquired an adjacent distillery owned by Minor Case (M.C.) Beam, which was itself a combination of two older distilleries, the oldest dating to 1872. The whole complex operated as Yellowstone and was run by members of the Dant and Beam families until Prohibition.

Steve and Paul Beam are descended from M.C. Beam on their father's side. On their mother's side they are descended from J.B. Dant's brother, William. Their Limestone Branch Distillery in Marion County is about 23 miles east of the original Yellowstone Distillery site.

After Prohibition, Yellowstone moved to a new location in Shively, south of Louisville. It was solely under the Dant family's control but Beam family members were employed there as distillers. In 1944, the brand and distillery were sold to Glenmore. It was a massive facility that made bourbon until 1991. In 1993, after Glenmore was sold to what became Diageo, Yellowstone was sold to Luxco where it became an unpalatable bottom-shelf brand made by one or more unnamed Kentucky distilleries.

A column still, additional pot still, automated bottling line, and barrel house will be added at Limestone Branch, which plans to begin distilling the original recipe for Yellowstone (their uncle had a copy) in early 2015.

"Growing Limestone Branch, I saw more and more of my time being pulled into regulatory, marketing, and business paperwork and negotiations, which I do not like," said president and master distiller Steve Beam. "This partnership will allow me to focus on making great bourbon, which I love."

"I am thrilled to be partnering with the Beam family and Limestone Branch Distillery,” said Donn Lux, Luxco chairman. “We have been striving for some time to enter the craft bourbon market with a truly authentic story and product. After spending time with Steve and Paul, it became evident to me that their family and their company is the perfect partner for my family and Luxco."


jonnyd said...

Great news! Glad Luxco is working to get Yellowstone back to it's roots.

Unknown said...

Looks like luxco buying paramount distillers in cleveland Ohio and selling vodka to the college crowd is paying off

Anonymous said...

Richnimrod says;
I certainly hope & pray this is successful for all concerned. An old and once-respected brand returning to a position of quality and one of respect is a worthwhile goal. I've long admired Luxco's ability to find and bottle some fine Bourbon. Here's hoping they, along with Limestone Branch's 'Beams', can also MAKE some as well.
Best of Luck!

Michael S said...


What will happen to Yellowstone Bourbon now? Will they sell sourced whiskey until the new stuff is ready?


Chuck Cowdery said...

They will continue to do what they have done since 1993, which is sell sourced whiskey, until they do something else.

Michael S said...

But will they change the current formula in the meantime?


Chuck Cowdery said...

I don't know how to say it any clearer. They will continue to do what they have done since 1993, which is sell sourced whiskey, until they do something else. Exactly what that 'something else' is and when it will happen is to be determined. I suspect that once they have a new product in the pipeline they will discontinue the current product much like Four Roses did.

Anonymous said...

Never seen or heard of this brand here in central Texas. Looks like a good thing, or nothing sorely missed.