WESTON, Mo. – Just outside of Kansas City, near the airport, sits Weston, Missouri. In that town is a distillery called Holladay Distillery. It’s the oldest distillery in Missouri.
Two brothers by the names of Ben Holladay and Major David Holladay visited Weston, Missouri, in 1804.
The town had a pure limestone spring, which was a rarity. The Holladay brothers found an even greater purpose for that limestone spring: Bourbon.
Jordan Germano, Communication Manager, said that the Holladay Distillery is the oldest in Missouri.
“We were shut down for a short time during prohibition. But we did have a special license to be able to produce for medicinal purposes,” said Germano. “And for years and years up until so from 1856 up until about 1985 we produced bourbon on site.”
For 30 years, after 1985, they have not produced any bourbon.
“Then at that time, we stopped producing bourbon and shifted more towards clear spirits. Vodka and gin/ People were not drinking as much bourbon during the 90s and late 80s,” said Germano.
But in 2015, they decided that with that, the bourbon trend was coming back.
“We brought that back in 2015, and we’ve been distilling ever since, and we released our first bourbon in over 30 years,” said Germano. “And we released bourbon under the label Ben Holladay Bourbon as a tribute to our founder.”
The bourbon is distilled in the original still house building they used 30 years ago. But because of that choice, they went through a $10 million renovation in 2015. All the equipment had to be updated.
The bourbon wasn’t ready for bottling until 6 years later. The company wanted to give the bourbon enough time to rest in the wood barrels.
“The flavors from the oak and the char on those barrels and getting their flavor profiles from that process, that’s why it took so long. A lot of bourbons will be released in three years or four years,” said Germano. “But the longer you wait, the more flavor you’re going to get, and so we felt like that six-year mark was kind of our sweet spot.”
Germano said that their distillery focuses on the creation of bourbon. They distill, age, and bottle on-site. Another aspect is that the distillery sits on top of a limestone spring.
“That is a huge piece of what sets us apart, and we also distill with limestone spring water. You don’t find that outside of Kentucky, usually,” said Germano. “Our property sits on an abundant amount of limestone spring water that we use in the cooking process. That is why Holladay came here and purchased the land where our distillery sits. He was from Kentucky. Once he realized we had that water source, he knew that it would be great for making bourbon.”
Germano said when bourbon is made from limestone spring water, it makes a huge difference. The limestone removes a lot of impurities from water.
The first bottling of Ben Holladay Bourbon, real Missouri Bourbon, was released in May of this year.
They offer distillery tours that highlight the property’s incredible history. The tours also give visitors a look at a modern bourbon operation that honors its past.
The newest event that has begun is “Fall-idays” at the distillery. This is a season of get-togethers with live music, cocktails, and food trucks.
There are more holiday events planned as the holidays have started.