The Green River Distilling Co. is back in Owensboro. Master Distiller Jacob Call described the newly rebranded company — which was O.Z. Tyler Distillery until Tuesday’s official name change — as both a renaissance and a revitalization.
Officials at Green River Distilling Co. said they put six years of work into reviving the historically significant distillery, which was originally founded by John W. McCulloch in 1885. It had been over 100 years since the nationally and internationally recognized whiskey brand had survived Prohibition, a distillery fire, multiple owners, and a period of decline.
That all changed Tuesday.
The team responsible for Green River Distilling Co. found the property in ruins, restored it, and began producing in 2016 as the O.Z. Tyler Distillery. Call said he was proud to see such a prevalent part of Owensboro’s history come full circle.
“Today we were able to bring the Green River Distillery back to its original home,” Call said. “We were fortunate enough to work with Rob McCulloch to bring that original name back to our facility where it all started.”
Call said there were very few historic brands still available and that his team was fortunate enough to have not only found the historic brand dating back to 1885, but to have had that brand come back to where it had started.
“It just made perfect sense to bring it back to its original starting place,” he said. “Green River is just a historic name that’s been in this community for a long time. Not only is it well known in Owensboro, it’s a very famous brand from before Prohibition — the most heavily advertised brand of spirits there was. Just to bring that name recognition back, we’re looking forward to a lot of people rediscovering that historical brand.”
Local artist Aaron Kizer was named Green River’s creative director. He designed the new logo and painted a large mural on the side of one of the distillery’s brick walls bearing the historic phrase, “The Whiskey Without Regrets.”
That phrase was the most heavily advertised marketing material during Prohibition, Call said.
“Aaron is a wonderful ambassador and proud son of Owensboro. We’re huge fans of his work and knew he had to be involved in our revival,” said Cathy Steen, Global Head of Sales & Marketing of Green River Distilling Co. “I couldn’t think of a better partner to bring the spirit of Green River Distilling Company back to life. His vision can be seen throughout the campus.”
Green River Distilling Co. will no longer distill and bottle O.Z. Tyler whiskey and bourbon, but will begin producing Green River whiskey and bourbon from here on out. Call said he expected the new logos to show up on bottles and line store shelves by 2021. But Call and his team have been distilling the product for four years already.
According to a release from Green River Distillery, CEO Simon Burch worked closely with Rob McCulloch to rename the distillery.
“I’ve always wanted the distillery’s name back at its original location in Owensboro,” McCulloch said. “It completes the story my great-grandfather started in 1885.”
Burch said Tuesday’s announcement honored the proud heritage of Owensboro and the beginning of its next chapter.
“We’re so grateful to Rob for sharing his family’s legacy with us and it’s a privilege to continue to build on the legacy that John McCulloch created,” Burch said. “It’s particularly exciting to make this announcement during September, which is National Bourbon Heritage Month.”