Originally published in The Ledger Independent July 10, 2018
The Old Pogue Distillery now has the original distillery number assigned to it.
According to owner Peter Pogue, when the distillery first opened in the 1800s, it had the number DPS KY-3. When the distillery reopened in 2012, however, it had received the number DSP KY-1502.
The Old Pogue Distillery officially reopened in 2012, but had started to distill bourbon again in 1995 with 30 barrels per year. The first batch was released in 2004. Today, the production goal is 50 barrels per year.
Since reopening at the current location, the distillery has also added a column still. The distillery is set up to complete a barrel every four house, but can potentially complete 14 barrels in an eight hour shift.
DSP stands for Distilled Spirits Plant. Every distillery must have a number in order to operate in the state of Kentucky, according to Pogue.
“It’s like the driver’s license for distilleries,” he said. “There’s a lot you have to go through in order to get one. You have to have background checks on you, your equipment and the property where you want to house the distillery.”
Pogue said he wanted the original number because of the historical significance.
“We always wanted to obtain that number for historic purposes,” he said. “We truly believe the birthplace of Bourbon is Maysville. This number gives that validation.”
Pogue said he was happy to have the old number again.
“We were very happy that the (Tax and Tobacco Trade Bureau) were willing to work with us. We’re pleased they allowed us to do that. We had to go through the same steps that we had to go through the first time in order to receive the DSP number, but it was worth it.”
According to information provided by the Pogue family in 2012, Bourbon production in Mason County, known as Limestone Landing at its founding, began after the Revolutionary War when distillers migrated down the Ohio River. The territory was part of Bourbon County, Va. It is said the first distillery was established in Kentucky in 1790, near the site where the H.E. Pogue Distillery operated for more than 50 years. Soon after the initial distilling activity, the region experienced an influx of pioneer distillers seeking to escape the taxation on spirits associated with the payment of Revolutionary War debt that culminated in the mustering of troops to put down the protests that came to be known as the Whiskey Rebellion.
In 1869, O.H.P. Thomas operated the “Old Time” Distillery and H.E. Pogue was the distiller. In February 1876, H.E. Pogue purchased the old coal oil property on the Maysville, Mason County city limits, as well as the rights to O.H.P. Thomas and established the H.E. Pogue Distillery. According to records, the original brand was Old Pogue Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
A newspaper account from Jan. 25, 1900, notes the distillery was distilling 50 barrels of whiskey daily and “it is said by those who know that there is no better distillery in Kentucky.” The most prominent brands were Old Time Sour Mash and Old Maysville Club Rye Whiskey. A newspaper account from 1910 stated the Pogue Distillery ground 600 bushels daily and had 15,000 warehoused barrels of whiskey.
H.E. Pogue I died in November 1890 in a distillery accident; his son, H.E. Pogue II ran the distillery until 1918; H.E. Pogue III worked in the distillery until enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1917 during World War I and in 1918, he returned home after learning his father died in a distilling accident. In 1919, the Volstead Act was passed by Congress, ushering in the Prohibition era.
During the 1920s Pogue sold limited quantities of its whiskey for medicinal purposes under the Old Jordan brand.
On Aug. 10, 1926, Pogue Distillery ended its operations as a bonded whiskey storage warehouse for the government. In 1933, after Prohibition ended, H.E. Pogue III became a consultant to various entities and individuals attempting to restart distilleries. The H.E. Pogue Distillery was sold to Rose of Chicago and on Oct. 22, 1935, operations at the distillery resumed. In 1942, Rose sold to Schenley who operated the Pogue Distillery during World War II; Pogue ceased production after that time.
For more information on Old Pogue Distillery or to schedule a tour, visit www.oldpogue.com or email [email protected]