Friday, October 28, 2016
Our retirement club toured the McCormick Distilling Company's facility in Weston, Mo on October 10, 2016. The plant was renamed to the Holladay Distillery in recognition of the founder of the distillery way back in 1856. This is how they describe themselves on their web site.
"160 years in the making, the Holladay Distillery is the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi River still located on its original site and is the proud home of McCormick Distilling Company. Nestled in the rolling hills of Weston, Missouri, the distillery is rich in history and full of surprises. Read more about how it all began and how the company has evolved to where we are today. Beginning in Spring 2016, stop by for a tour to see it all for yourself!
It all started with the limestone spring. First discovered on the land that would become Weston, Missouri, by Lewis and Clark during their 1804 expedition, a pure limestone spring was a rarity whose potential was recognized by an enterprising young businessman by the name of Benjamin Holladay. After a ﬁrst venture on the site as a meat-packing house, Benjamin Holladay and his brother, Major David Holladay, divined an even greater purpose for that limestone spring: Bourbon. Together, they opened a distillery on the site in 1856. Benjamin Holladay went on to great fame and fortune as the “Stagecoach King”, running the stagecoach lines from Missouri to the West Coast that later became the Wells Fargo Express, and ultimately acquiring the Pony Express as well. His coach lines brought him into close counsel with everyone from Joseph Smith and the Mormons to President Abraham Lincoln, and he was named Weston’s ﬁrst postmaster.
He was a serial entrepreneur who owned businesses including saloons, hotels, and silver mines, and by 1864 was the largest individual employer in the United States. The Holladay Distillery underwent its own changes as decades passed, changing ownership and names a number of times before ultimately becoming known as McCormick Distilling Company in 1942. Acquired in 1993 by Ed Pechar and Mike Griesser and small group of private investors, the distillery has grown in size and expanded its portfolio of products. In 2016, the distillery commemorates its 160 years of rich history by going back to its roots and once again bearing the proud name of Holladay Distillery, operated by McCormick Distilling Company. For the ﬁrst time in 30 years, the distillery is again distilling bourbon on site. The same 160-year-old recipe. The same mid-1800s stillhouse building. And the same limestone spring. History has come full circle at the Holladay Distillery."
Here are some photos of the plant and Weston.
After the tour, we will be sampling their various products here.
Waiting for the bus. The campus is large and hilly so the bus is easier and safer than walking.
A short video of the distillery's history was shown in the "Ancient Cave" before seeing the rest of the facility.
Photos inside the distilling building and the barrel aging building were not permitted for safety reasons....probably has something to do with the 118 proof liquor being created from the mash.
Checking out the spring feed cistern.
The bottling and packaging facility is totally automated.
Quality control check.
Post tour sampling of the many different products produced at the distillery.
White Dog is McCormick's name for their moonshine. It is 59% alcohol or 118 proof....talk about kick. This is the intermediate product after distilling. To make bourbon the White Dog is aged in charred barrels for 3 to 10 years. The charring gives it the golden color and flavor that looks so inviting. The time in the barrels also reduces the alcohol content and gives a smoother taste.
We had a group lunch after the tour at the Weston Cafe. Weston is a touristy town with lots of trendy little shops and restaurants on the banks of the Missouri River.
How is that for a tenderloin sandwich?
Catfish fillet and waffle cut sweet potato fries. It was as good as it looks.
Main Street Weston.
On the way home we stopped at the Weston Bend State Park to see the fall colors and the river from an overlook. The colors this fall are not a bright as in the good years.