Episode 269. Corky Taylor – Chairman & Founder of Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company
In 2008, Corky Taylor retired to the beaches of Sarasota, Florida, following an illustrious career in business. An army brat who grew up in Hawaii, Corky was regaled in his youth with colorful tales of his great-grandfather, Henry Kraver, the self-made entrepreneur who founded the KY. Peerless Distilling Co. in Henderson, Kentucky. in 1889. Kraver shuttered the distillery on the eve of Prohibition, and it lay dormant for nearly 100 years. A collegiate golfer, Corky graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business from Murray State University and founded financial firm Bencor, Inc. in Louisville and remained at the helm for more than 20 years, before selling his thriving business and setting his sights on a simpler life. But Corky soon returned to Louisville, fueled by a desire to honor the legacy of Henry Kraver and resurrect the family business. Corky felt that when he bottled that 1st rye—the 1st in almost a century for our family—was one of the most rewarding moments of his life. Corky soon after purchased a historic building from the 1890s, in the heart of Louisville, and set about bringing Peerless back to life. His son Carson, a builder by trade, revitalized the building and transformed it into a state-of-the-art distillery. Meanwhile, Corky spent 18 months procuring Kraver’s original distilled spirits plant (DSP) #50, a testament to the 4th-generation entrepreneur’s fortitude.
For perspective, DSP #’s issued to new distilleries today is above 20,000. Corky proudly opened the doors to his modern-day Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company in 2015 under DSP 50.
Running the family business alongside his son has brought him untold gratification, yet he insists on the utmost caliber in every aspect of his distillery. As the sole proprietor of Peerless, Corky isn’t interested in cutting corners. Rather than purchase distilled spirits from another producer, he let his inaugural rye whiskey age in barrel for 2 years before selling a single bottle. For Corky, quality is paramount, and he’s deeply committed to producing only the finest rye and bourbon.
His passion for handcrafted quality is matched only by his dedication to his family. Peerless has remained in family hands for five generations, and the business is now bonded to stay in the family for at least five more generations.