Media Files
Interview with E. H. Taylor Hay, Jr., October 20, 2009
Bourbon in Kentucky: Buffalo Trace Oral History Project
Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History
Interviewee E. H. Taylor Hay, Jr.
Interviewer Thomas Troland
created 2009-10-20
cms record id 2009oh248_bik013
accession number 2009OH248 BIK 013
is part of Buffalo Trace Oral History Project (BIK003)
summary E. H. Taylor Hay Jr., originally from California, has spent most of his life in Kentucky. He is a descendant of Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr. who once owned the distillery now known as Buffalo Trace and made Old Taylor bourbon. In this interview, Hay explains the Taylor family genealogy. He describes Colonel Taylor's personality, his career, and his status as a public figure. Hay discusses Colonel Taylor's contributions to the industry, including his advocacy of the government regulation of bourbon. He also explains how Colonel Taylor's legacy and name live on. Hay talks about how Taylor's whiskey fortune enabled his descendants to build a historic home at Scotland Farm which is still owned and maintained by the Taylor family.
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Commodore Richard Taylor
Family history
Scotland Farm (Ky.)
Frankfort (Ky.)
local term Whiskey
local term Distillers.
local term Kentucky--Politics and government
local term Whiskey industry--Kentucky
local term Distilleries--Kentucky
local term Genealogy.
local term Taylor, E. H. (Edmund Haynes), Jr., 1830-1923
local term Inheritance and succession.
local term Families.
local term Alcohol--Law and legislation
local term Bourbon whiskey
local term Quality of products.
local term Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Rights Statement:
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections and Digital Programs, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Source Metadata URI:
00048051 (2009oh248_bik013_hay_ohm.xml)
E. H. Taylor Hay, Jr. was born in San Diego, California in 1930 and moved around the country many times during his childhood before eventually settling in Kentucky. He talks about his family background, and traces the line of inheritance of his family's land outside of Frankfort, Kentucky back many generations. He describes the family's home, Thistleton.
Partial Transcript: My name is Tom Troland. Today we're interviewing E. H. Taylor Hay, Jr.
Inheritance and succession.
Taylor, E. H. (Edmund Haynes), Jr., 1830-1923
Air Force
Al Capone
C. W. Hay
Chicago (Ill.)
Cincinnati (Ohio)
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Family history
Frankfort (Ky.)
Greek revival
Los Angeles (Calif.)
Louisville (Ky.)
Manor houses
Mary Belle Taylor Hay
Private schools
San Diego (Calif.)
Scotland Farm
Swigert Taylor
Virginia Military Institute
Hay traces his family lineage back to Commodore Richard Taylor, and gives a brief history of Commodore Taylor. He talks about the Commodore's role in the Revolutionary War, the land he received from a land grant after the war, and how the land was passed down to his sons, both named Richard.
Partial Transcript: Let's trace your lineage from E. H. Taylor, Jr.
Inheritance and succession.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
"Black Dick"
"Hopping Dick"
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Colonel Taylor
Commodore Richard Taylor
Family background
Family history
Land grants
Louisville (Ky.)
Revolutionary War
Richard Taylor, Jr.
Hay discusses Colonel E. H. Taylor, Jr.'s relation to Commodore Richard Taylor's legitimate son Richard (also called "Black Dick"). Hay describes the continuation of his family's lineage from Colonel Taylor to his own generation. He describes Colonel Taylor's homes, and talks about how he preserved artifacts from Taylor's home to use in his own. He talks about Colonel Taylor's personality and his interest in fashion.
Partial Transcript: Now "Hopping Dick"--or, uh, "Black Dick," uh, 'cause of the dark complexion--and, uh, they were both very powerful men--uh, became, uh, uh, very influential in Virginia and places like that.
Inheritance and succession.
Taylor, E. H. (Edmund Haynes), Jr., 1830-1923
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Colonel Taylor
Commodore Richard Taylor
E. H. Taylor Hay
Family history
George Rogers Clark
Locust Grove
Mary Belle Taylor Hay
President Zachary Taylor
Richard Taylor
Scotland Farm
Swigert Taylor
Hay talks about the stories he heard from his grandmother and other relatives about Colonel Taylor. He talks about Colonel Taylor's entrepreneurship and his ownership of distilleries. He describes the story of how Colonel Taylor worked to keep Frankfort as the capital city of Kentucky.
Partial Transcript: Let's, uh--(clears throat)--let's discuss a little bit where these stories came from.
Economic conditions.
Frankfort (Ky.)
Kentucky--Politics and government
Taylor, E. H. (Edmund Haynes), Jr., 1830-1923
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
E. H. Taylor
Eugenia Hay Blackburn
James Pepper
Labrot & Graham
Mary Belle Taylor Hay
State capitals
Woodford Distillery
Hay tells several stories that illustrate the relationship between Colonel Taylor and his sons and daughters, including his criticism of a daughter for giving her dog a human name.
Partial Transcript: But this is another story and this one was told by my Aunt Eugenia when I was five and when I was eight.
Inheritance and succession.
Taylor, E. H. (Edmund Haynes), Jr., 1830-1923
Chewing tobacco
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Colonel Taylor
Edmund Taylor
Frankfort (Ky.)
Hay describes Colonel Taylor's personality and his reputation as an entertainer. He talks about his marketing plan for increasing his whiskey's popularity in three major cities by putting empty bottles in trash cans. He talks about the original labels on Colonel Taylor's whiskey bottles.
Partial Transcript: From what you know and what you've heard about Edmund Taylor, Jr., how would you summarize who he was?
Sales promotion.
Taylor, E. H. (Edmund Haynes), Jr., 1830-1923
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery
Empty bottles
Garbage barrels
Mark Brown
Marketing skills
Old Taylor bourbon whiskey
Hay talks more about Colonel Taylor's fashion sense. He talks about Colonel Taylor's personality, and how he earned and lost several fortunes throughout his lifetime. He talks about how Colonel Taylor had the first whiskey to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, and his role in the creation of the Bottled-in-Bond Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.
Partial Transcript: Tell us about the vest you're wearing.
Alcohol--Law and legislation
Alcohol--Taxation--United States.
Bourbon whiskey
Economic conditions.
Kentucky--Politics and government
Quality control.
Quality of products.
Taylor, E. H. (Edmund Haynes), Jr., 1830-1923
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
Bottled-in-Bond Act
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Colonel Taylor
Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval
Government control
Pure Food and Drug Act
Scotland Farm
Swigert Taylor
Warehouse receipts
Hay talks about Colonel Taylor's legacy as the "father of the bourbon industry." He talks about how Taylor's legacy continues through the generations of his family because of artifacts that have been preserved. He compares Colonel Taylor's legacy to Colonel Sander's legacy. The interview is concluded.
Partial Transcript: How would you summarize, in your view, E. H. Taylor's greatest legacy to the bourbon industry?
Bourbon whiskey
Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Frankfort (Ky.)
Quality of products.
Sanders, Harland, 1890-1980
Taylor, E. H. (Edmund Haynes), Jr., 1830-1923
Whiskey industry--Kentucky
"Father of the bourbon industry"
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Colonel Harland Sanders
Colonel Taylor
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Mark Brown
Mint juleps
Old Taylor bourbon whiskey
TROLAND: My name is Tom Troland. Today we're interviewing E.H. Taylor
Hay Jr. Today's date, October 20, 2009. This is part of the Buffalo
Trace Oral History Project, and we are here at the Buffalo Trace
Distillery. First of all, Taylor, thank you so much for taking time
out to talk with us.
HAY: You're certainly welcome.
TROLAND: Let's begin with having you tell me just a little bit about
HAY: Um, well, I was born in San Diego, California, in 1930, so, uh,
today is, um, 2009. So I'll be eighty years old in about five months,
um, so I've been around a while, uh, because some of the stories
I'm going to refer to go way back into the thirties and I was alive
then. Um, I went from San Diego, California, to Los Angeles; from
Los Angeles to Scotland Farm where my grandmother lived, she was a
granddaughter of Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr., and I was there when I was
five for a year and then I
went back to Chicago--no, I went back to
L.A. and then came back in 1938 when I was eight years old and lived
for another year at the old, it's, we call it an old mansion or a
manor house or whatever you want to call it, um, big old twenty-room
house. It's still there, and my brother still lives there. Um,
the, uh, from there, I went to Chicago and, uh, was, uh, lived like
Eloise in a private club on Jackson Boulevard right down on the loop
on the fifteenth floor, and, uh, I had a lot of good stories to tell
there, and I went to a private school up north off Lincoln Park where
I was the--there were three in my Spanish class, uh, six or seven
in my history class. You might call it a place for, um, people that
needed special attention. (laughs) It was one of those schools where
you got out of there, you automatically
skipped freshman English at
Northwestern. Um, so anyway, to make a long story short I went from
there, uh, back to Scotland Farm when I was fourteen which is the farm
that, uh, Colonel Taylor, the last drop of the Old Taylor Whiskey money
bought for my grandmother or my--yeah--and, um, uh, from there I went,
um, to school at Virginia Military Institute in Virginia and, um, from
there I went into the Air Force. I was married and, um, stayed in the
Air Force a couple of years, then I came back, went to Indianapolis
and then full circle, I came back to Louisville and stayed there for
thirty-six years. And for the last fifteen I've been right back here
at the foot of the Buffalo Trace Distillery, uh, which was my great-
great grandfather's, Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr.
TROLAND: What about Scotland Farm? Where is Scotland Farm?
Well, uh, I think back in the old days there might have been a
trail back there, but, uh, Scotland Farm is about five miles out of the
center of Frankfort before they moved the city limits out to pick up
the hogs and chickens because it was always a population in Frankfort
of 11,600 people and then all of a sudden they moved the city limits to
count all the chickens and hogs so they went up to twelve or thirteen
thousand--(laughs)--you know, to be major, a major place. Um, they,
um, my great-grandfather, um, Swaggart Taylor who is the son of Colonel
Taylor inherited five-sixteenths of his fortune, and, uh, I went down
to the courthouse in Frankfort to see if there was a will down there
and there was. There was a one-page will made by Colonel Taylor,
and this very simply said--he had eight children--very simply said,
um, uh, "I'm dividing my estate into sixteenths, and, uh, each one of
you will have, uh, one-sixteenth"--so that would be seven-sixteenths,
something like that--and, um, but, um, "Swaggart will get the remainder
because if it weren't for him, I would not have made another fortune
that I could leave to you children." So consequently, uh, Swaggart
Taylor, uh, inherited the bulk of his fortune which was mostly in land,
some cash, and, uh, a lot of properties around town. For instance,
Tanglewood up in the hills was part of the property. They had a lot
of property overlooking the capital. Um, some say that Colonel Taylor
gave the, uh, new capitol the ground on which to build which is another
story we'll talk about,
and, um, so in 1923, Swaggart Taylor took his
inheritance and bought Scotland Farm for his daughter, my grandmother,
Mary Bell Taylor Hay who is the granddaughter of Colonel Taylor, and he
bought that farm for them. It was 650 acres at the time, and, um, my
grandfather loved horses. And, uh, so they built these big, beautiful
barns. They were classic barns--they're still there--and went into
the racehorse business. Again, it's a tangent but it's interesting
because he became one of the top, um, uh, racetrack management people
in the United States, and he managed Washington Park in Chicago, the
Fair Grounds in New Orleans, one in Cuba, one in Oklahoma--I'm not sure
whether it was when Remington was still there or not then--and, uh, he,
his friends were Al Capone, uh, Jack
Dempsey and they used to visit the
farm. And Al Capone boarded horses there until my grandmother found
out about it and sent them back. She didn't like it. And, uh, so that,
that's a tangent, but that, uh, farm when I went there when I was five
was actually almost a living museum for Colonel Taylor. The reason--
and I figured this out when I saw some of the old photographs of parties
that Colonel Taylor used to give because he was a wonderful party
giver--all of his furniture had been moved from Thistleton which was
outside of Frankfort, an old Victorian home, to Scotland Farm; gorgeous
stuff that you would see in the, and some of it, the same stuff's in
the Art Institute in Chicago of the period furniture, the Victorian and
whatever it was. And, uh, on almost every wall was a, uh, a painting
of Colonel Taylor or a photograph, and, uh, in the library right now
there's a photograph of
Colonel Taylor when he was younger with a long
beard and in the dining room there is a portrait of Colonel Taylor when
he's older and upstairs in the upstairs hall there are photographs.
And, uh, so he--I don't like the word permeated because that's sort
of a negative word--he graced Scotland Farm with his presence, and
when I went there when I was five, he had only been dead thirteen years
and the stories--and I remember the stories--that they told of Colonel
Taylor which we can talk about later. Um, but they, my Aunt Eugenia,
my grandmother's daughter, and Granny used to tell stories. I rarely
saw my grandfather, um, uh, C.W. Hay because he was always on the
racetracks, and he was, uh, away most of the time. Uh, he was a very
lovely man, and I remember him very well. I only knew him when I was
five. So, uh,
that's pretty much where it comes from in there. I know
you have some questions for me. Do your questions.
TROLAND: So Scotland Farm, then, is the place where you lived in the
early years of your life. Is that correct?
HAY: When I was five, when I was eight and then from fourteen on because
then my mother--when, in 1939, my grandmother died and my grandfather
died in 1936, uh, and so my father, uh, was going to buy a distillery
but he took the money he had saved all of his younger life to buy a
distillery so he could be in the distilling business and, instead,
bought Scotland Farm which is the old, old, big old house. Old--what
do you call it? Georgian. It was Greek Revival. It's a Georgian house
with the big columns, which you call Greek Revival, and it's one of
the finest examples of it in Kentucky. It's in all the coffee table
magazines--and so,
uh, I was there, uh, from fourteen on, fifteen on
because my mother moved down from Chicago when my brother was born and,
um, opened it up and started keeping house there. And so, uh, I had
been living with my grandmother in Frankfort, uh, downtown, and, um,
uh--my other grandmother on my mother's side--and I moved out there to
the farm again. So it was off and on my home from a very young time
until I left home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where, where is, tell exactly where it is, Scotland
TROLAND: Yeah. Where is Scotland Farm?
HAY: Uh, Scotland Farm is, uh, at the intersection, now, the
intersection of Route 60 and I-64. Um, it's the only undeveloped
corner so it's very easy to see, and when the leaves fall off the trees
on your way to Lexington on I-64, if you
cross 60 or turn left onto 64,
immediately look to your right and within just about five counts you're
going to see the old house sitting back there looking over what used to
be the land that was the farm.
TROLAND: Is that the house that you occupy now or--
HAY: No. Uh, my brother's lived there all of his life. He was born in
Chicago in 1944, and, uh, Mother moved down while he was still a little
baby. And he was only gone for three years out of his life. He's--I
hate to say this because, um, uh, I don't know whether he likes to
know his age--but he's sixty-five years old. He's lived there for
sixty-five years, and he is still there in the house by himself and he
has a lot of friends and, um, very social; doesn't have a family. He's
never married. He, uh, um, if you looked at it from thirty feet away,
he looks like he's thirty years old, and, um, he's a delightful man.
He, um, very social, very helpful for a lot of other people, and, uh,
he keeps the house in
good shape. And my sister, from Chicago, comes
down and visits. Uh, we inherited the, uh, the farm, my brother and my
sister and I, uh, and the old house, um, back in 1995, I believe, uh,
when my father died, and so it's a, uh, thing that we have there for a
family center.
TROLAND: Let's trace your lineage from E.H. Taylor Jr.
HAY: Okay. Well, I can go back a little further, um, to Commodore
Richard Taylor who was not "Commodore" at the time that he fought with
George Washington, but he was the, he was the, uh, commander of the
Virginia fleet who harassed the British and tried to keep them from,
uh, uh, helping out, uh, uh, the soldiers. And, uh, but he had the
same rank as George Washington at the time, but he was the
of the Virginia fleet and George Washington, of course, was fighting on
land. And after the war, 1798, he was given, um, five thousand acres
as a land grant in Kentucky outside of Louisville, Kentucky. Now, um,
I don't, I don't know whether synchronicity might be the word but I, I
think it could be, but I was in the development business in Louisville
for, uh, thirty years. I developed land, put in roads, uh, designed
and built homes, uh, and also had a real estate brokerage company, and
the last, uh--I always admired this wonderful piece of land out towards
Cincinnati on Route 42. It was a gorgeous piece of land with a big
forest, about a forty or fifty-acre forest. It was 165 or so acres
of land, and I thought, "Someday I would love to be able to buy that,
live there and develop it and share it with other people." Well, sure
in 1990--no--1974, I bought the land, moved out there, built a
house, lived in a grove of trees and, uh, developed it, and one day,
a guy named, um--I can't remember his name now. He had an engineering
firm in, uh, Louisville--he said, "Taylor?" I said, "Who's this?" He
said, "So and so." And I said, "Well, what do you want?" He said, "I
understand you're good at placing where a home should go," and I said,
"Yeah. I am. Uh, been doing it for a long time." And he said, uh,
"I'm going to build a home out on my property which is behind yours.
I've got four hundred acres back there, that are on the river," and
said, uh, "I'll pick you up sometime and show it to you. You tell me
where I should build my house." So I went out there with him one day,
and, um, we were driving and I showed him where I thought he ought
to build his house. He said, "That's an interesting thing. You, you
decided to build it exactly
where the previous, the original owner
was." I said, "Well, that's very interesting." So we were driving down
this ridge, and he said, "Now there's a historical site down there.
It's a graveyard. Do you want to go down and look at it?" I said,
"Yeah. Let's go down and look at it." Well, I went down there--it gets
chills in me when I talk about it--and I was standing there with an iron
fence, and it was all taken care of by the DAR, there was the grave of
Commodore Richard Taylor. As it turned out, that five thousand acres
that he got included the land I bought and developed. And so Commodore
Richard Taylor lived there in, from 1798 on, and, um, uh, his brother,
uh, I read a copy of a letter. He said, "Dear, Dickey"--Richard,
Commodore Taylor--he said, "Dear Dickey," he said, uh, "How do you like
it in Kentucky?" And he said, "You know, they gave me five thousand
acres out there, too"--because he was another general or something--
and, um, uh, he said, um, um, "Mine's, mine's five thousand acres, uh,
that takes in a place called Harrod's Creek. Is that any, is that
nice land?" (laughs) Well, it's one of the fanciest neighborhoods in
Louisville now. And so anyway, uh, Commodore Taylor had two sons named
Richard. One was, um, his, uh, with his wife, Elizabeth, the other was
with another woman, uh, who he wasn't married to, and Commodore Richard
Taylor, uh, brought him home--this other Richard--and asked his wife
would she raise him, too? And she said, "Of course." And one was named
Black Dick because he had very dark complexion--he was a very powerful
man--and the other one was named Hopping Dick, and Black Dick was, uh,
uh, the, the legitimate side which I come from, naturally--(laughs)--
TROLAND: I'm relieved to know
HAY: Hopping Dick was called Hopping Dick because he had been shot in
the leg during one of the Indian wars, but if--but President Harding--I
think it was Harding--said, "If I had to storm the gates of hell, I
would ask Richard Taylor to lead the charge," and that was Hopping
Dick. So anyway, those were the two sons.
TROLAND: These are the two sons of Colonel Richard Taylor?
HAY: Of Commodore Richard Taylor.
TROLAND: Or Commodore Richard Taylor. Yes.
HAY: Now Hopping Dick--or Black Dick, uh, because of the dark complexion
and, uh, they were both very powerful men, uh, became, um, uh, very
influential in Virginia and places like that. And then Colonel
Taylor, that was his great-great grandfather. See, I think it's, I
think Commodore Taylor's my triple-great, uh, if I have to guess. I
could be wrong on that, uh, but I think he's my great-great-great. So
he's my Great-Great Grandfather Colonel Taylor's
grandfather, maybe.
Maybe great-grandfather. Anyway, Colonel Taylor, uh, was born in
Columbia, Kentucky, and, uh, both of his parents died, and, um, his
name was a little different than it is now because he was an orphan
and he was adopted by E. H. Taylor in Frankfort, I believe, and raised.
And he loved his step-father who was a cousin or a brother of, of
his father, and, um, took on his name, E. H. Taylor Jr. Now as he
grew up, he had a lot of privileges, uh, of education. Uh, he had a
of experiences. Uh, one is that he lived with Zachary Taylor in
New Orleans back in the old, old days, was introduced to a lot of the
captains of industry and, um, went into banking originally, but as a
banker he knew who was making all the money. And, uh, he liked banking
but he all of a sudden saw, "Look at all this money these distillers
are making." (laughs) So he decided to go into the distillery business,
and the rest is history that we can talk about later.
TROLAND: So let's just follow up on the lineage here, that is to
continue that part of the story. You are related to Colonel E.H.
Taylor Jr., the whiskey man?
HAY: My grandmother was his granddaughter, and my father was, uh--my
father lived with Colonel
Taylor until he was eleven or twelve. Daddy
was born in 1910. Colonel Taylor died in 1923, so Daddy lived with my,
with his mother and father at Thistleton. It was a great big mansion,
Victorian mansion, which has now been replaced by a little shopping
center out on the, toward Louisville, and, uh, he has a lot of stories
about Colonel Taylor and, um--which I have and we can talk about them,
and um, if we have time, and you all tell me--and, um, the artifacts
are all over the place. I have artifacts here we can look at in a
minute, but as an example, when I was developing land and building
homes in, um, Louisville, um, Daddy was one of these people that saved
everything and he had a bunch of old mantles that he had taken out of
Colonel Taylor's house at, uh, Thistleton. And, uh,
he saved all the
lighting he could because they tore the house down--it was a gorgeous
home. I've got pictures of it, and I saw it before it was torn down.
It was a big home--and, um, my first home that I built in 1965 for
myself was high on a hill. It was a Georgian looking thing with
columns and porte-cochere, and it's in a--oh, and it's right across
from Locust Hill. That's where I built, uh, where George Rogers Clark
lived. The Clarks, incidentally, left Virginia because they were mad
because the Taylors were getting all the favors from the, uh, from
England so they said, Well, we're going to make our fortune somewhere
else, so the Clarks came west, settled in Kentucky as one other place--
Clarksville, Indiana--and, uh, so I built my home--
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me. It's actually Locust Grove.
HAY: What did I say?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Locust Hill which is our, to Scotland Farm--
HAY: Oh, okay. Okay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry to interrupt. And then the other thing is,
do your, like, line from
Colonel Taylor, Swaggart Taylor, Mary Bell
Taylor, your father.
HAY: Okay. I can do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At some point. So, yeah.
HAY: All right. So anyway, there were a lot of coincidences because I
was just a stone's throw from--it was not Locust Hill. It was Locust
Grove and, uh, which is a historical George Rogers Clark home where
he lived in Louisville over in the fancy section of town. So, uh, I
would, I took a chandelier from Colonel Taylor's house, old house, and
it was in the foyer of my first home that I built for myself, and his
mantle from his, uh, uh, bedroom which is a gorgeous mantle was the
mantle that I used in the, um, in the living room in my house. So he,
he seems to follow everyone all over the place. Um, and, uh, and still
current--at Scotland Farm there are so many of his, of his
things. So
uh, uh, to give you an idea of the, of the lineage, Commodore Taylor,
of course, they were the Virginia Taylors. They were all, they, the
spoil system, that's where they made their money was fighting wars and
getting land, but it was Commodore Taylor. Then there was, uh, uh,
Richard Taylor, his legitimate son and then there was--
TROLAND: That is to say Black Dick.
HAY: That was Black Dick. Hopping Dick was the illegitimate.
TROLAND: Yes, which I understand, you're not related to.
HAY: I don't think so. (laughs) No. Uh, then after that, Colonel
Taylor is, uh, uh, I'm not sure--there's somebody in between there, so
that would have been either his great- or great-great grandmother--then
after Colonel Taylor came my grandmother, uh, uh--well, no. After
Colonel Taylor
came, uh, Swaggart Taylor and his wife, and so it would
be Swaggart Taylor who we have a picture of here. And, uh, then after
Swaggart Taylor came, um, my grandmother who was his daughter.
TROLAND: That would be Mary Bell Taylor?
HAY: Right. And then after that came my father, E.H. Taylor Hay and
then came after that was me, E.H. Taylor Hay Jr.
TROLAND: So to summarize, you are the great-great grandson of, uh, E.H.
Taylor Jr.?
HAY: Yeah. Here's a picture of him when he was, uh, this was--he
was over ninety when this was taken, but he loved to, he had a cane
for every day, uh, every hour of the day, they said, and he had also
clothes for every hour of the day. He changed clothes two or three
times a day depending on what he was doing; meeting with somebody
important in business or whether he was out because he worked with his
hands. He did all kinds of stuff, and he was a powerful man. But,
uh, here is a representation of the top hat that he wore. I don't know
whether this would fit me. No.
TROLAND: This is, in fact, a top hat that he wore?
HAY: I wish it wore, but it's not. This belonged to my uncle who was
one of the top men in American Tobacco Company. Uh, Colonel Taylor's
hats are with my nieces in a couple of other cities; Washington D.C.
and, uh, uh, Westport, Connecticut. Uh, but they have his hats.
And, um, then here's one of his canes. He had, I had--I chose all of
his canes when my sister and brother and I divided up all of the, uh,
possessions in the house. Most of them are still there, but there were
over two thousand items and this cane was one of
his evening canes. It
has a gold tip on it. It's just a gorgeous cane, and as my mother--
since we're telling stories--would say, "What is a story without a top
hat and a cane?" And so that, uh, that's the story of, um, up to this
point. There are all kinds of side stories I could tell you about his
personality based on the stories if you'd like to hear some of that.
TROLAND: Let's, uh, let's discuss a little bit where these stories came
from. Now, uh, your dad was born after the death of E.H. Taylor Jr.,
so your--
HAY: No. My father lived with him for thirteen years.
TROLAND: Ah. Yes. Okay. So your--that's right.
HAY: Twelve or thirteen.
TROLAND: Your father, then, uh, heard stories directly about E.H.
Taylor and knew him?
HAY: Well, he knew him, so he, he--yeah.
TROLAND: And your father, then, told you stories about E.H. Taylor
which he had remembered from his time?
HAY: Strangely he told very few.
Uh, the stories that I got came from his daughter, my grandmother,
or his gr-, great, granddaughter, my grandmother, and Eugenia, her
TROLAND: And your grandmother, Mary Bell Taylor Hay--
HAY: Mary Bell Taylor, yeah, Hay.
TROLAND: --personally knew E.H. Taylor, is that correct?
HAY: Oh, she lived with him, uh, for years.
TROLAND: Yes. So what, what are some of the stories? What's a story
that she told you about him?
HAY: Well, um, first of all Colonel Taylor was an entrepreneur of
all entrepreneurs. He owned shares of or all of probably a dozen
distilleries over his career. Uh, he, um, had some wonderful
partnerships and he had some that weren't so good because you have
personalities and, and, uh,
involvement in things, but he was so good.
For instance, James Pepper when he died--old man James Pepper died--he
had a, uh, distillery out there around Millville, um, young Pepper took
it over and lost the money and was going broke, and Colonel Taylor came
to him and said, "I'll tell you what. I'll be your full partner, and
after we get it on its feet you can buy it back from me." So he took
the, Pepper and got it back on its feet, sold it back to the young
TROLAND: Is this the distillery that later became Labrot and Graham?
HAY: That's Labrot and Graham, and Woodford now. It's called Woodford.
At Labrot and Graham--I believe that's right--Labrot and Graham, uh,
this picture right here was taken at that, supposedly at that desk
because there's a film out there, if you go to see their film, it shows
him sitting at his desk at Labrot and Graham. And, uh, but he owned,
uh, uh, a major share of that, and right down the road he, um, uh,
started Old Taylor Distillery. He owned Old Crow for a while. Um, he
just owned all--well, he owned this in partnership with, um, a couple
of people. And, uh, um, he was--he was an amazing man. He owned
the largest herd of Hereford cattle in the world. It was finer and
larger than the King of England's at the time, and he had the world's
champion bull, Woodford. And we still have some bones of Woodford
that my, uh, sister, I think, took or, or, uh, chose in a little thing
because Woodford burned up in a fire. He had a terrible fire at his,
uh, beautiful, beautiful farm
out there in Woodford County toward
Versailles on the right hand side as you go toward Versailles, and,
uh, my father went out there when he was just a young boy and walked
through the ruins and picked up some bones from Woodford, the world's
champion. Uh, and, um, he, uh, had his own cigarettes made, Colonel
Taylor did. He, um, um, he did all types of investments. He was
just an extraordinary man and a quite imaginative man. Um, some of
the stories, um, when he was, uh--well, for instance, they were going
to move the capital of Frankfort out of town to either Lexington or
Louisville, and he--this was in 1900--and in 1900, he gave all of his
wealth, devoted it and his health to seeing that
Frankfort kept the
capital of Kentucky. He at that time, was a senator. He was mayor of
Frankfort several times, a senator and he was going to run for governor
but decided not to one time, and, uh, when I was going through, uh, uh,
the basement of Scotland Farm--this was years and years, not too many
years, ago. Three or four years ago--my father was, had a photographic
memory and he kept all his Bloodhorse magazines. Daddy loved
racehorses also, and the Bloodhorse magazines and the Thoroughbred
magazines were stacked around all these shelves in the basement where
they had bookshelves. And I noticed that on this one stack there was
a space like this, and I wondered, I thought, I wonder what's under
there because here is a stack in this bookshelf down low. But I looked
and I just saw a shadow, and I thought, I wonder what's there. I took
all these magazines
off. It was his scrapbook of every clipping of his
career and also the scrapbook included the clippings of him fighting
to see that the capital of Kentucky stayed in Frankfort. As a senator
he knew he was going to be defeated even though he had paid every one
of these people in whiskey and every legislator he could to vote for
him. He knew he was going to lose, and it's not any different than
the Congress today or, uh, legislatures of these various cities. They
allocate the money that they have and then as they get it then they
divide it up and put it in their pockets, you know. So here he was,
knowing he was going to be defeated with this bill if they had time to
really consider it and vote and fight him on it because they wanted to
go to Lexington or Louisville because there was big money that wanted
the capital. So the evening before, right
before they were to close
everything, he slipped in an amendment stating that two cents out of
every hundred dollars would be devoted to raising money to build a new
capitol in Frankfort--and at that time, it was going to cost $75,000
dollars to build the capitol--so much to the chagrin of the opponents,
they thought, "That no good," you know--I don't know what kind of cuss
words they used in those days--but there was the bill in there and
they knew that it would delay for weeks or maybe months of fighting
over it to get it out of there, and they wanted their money. So they
all, the majority voted for it, and so all of a sudden Frankfort not
only had the capital but they were going to have a new capitol thanks
to Colonel Taylor. That's all in the
scrapbooks, but in the early
nineteen--probably the year after that--he was lying flat on his back
in Thistleton upstairs in his bedroom dying. He was seventy years old
approximately. Um, the two doctors came in, examined him and shook
their heads, walked out, closed the door quietly outside his room, and
one said, "It's too bad the old Colonel's dying." And the other one
says, "Yes, and it's too bad he's dying broke," because he had used all
of his resources. His eyes popped open, he sat up in bed, spun around,
jumped out of the bed--powerful man--in his nightshirt opened the door
chased these two doctors down the stairs, long flights of stairs,
out on the veranda and chased them halfway down this long, long--I wish
we had a, a picture of that, uh, Thistleton--shaking his fist saying,
"By God, I'm not going to die, and I'm not going to die broke." From
'70 to '93, he made another fortune with the help of his son who he was
devoted to and his son was devoted to him, but this is another story
and this one was told by my Aunt Eugenia when I was five and when I
was eight at the farm--1935-1938--because I heard it several times.
They had raised tobacco, they had cattle, they had horses. They had,
whiskey, and, uh, he liked to chew tobacco. Colonel Taylor hated
tobacco chewers, thought it was a disgusting habit.
TROLAND: I agree with Colonel Taylor.
HAY: (laughs) So here, so, uh, my Great-Grandfather Swaggart had a
chew of tobacco in his mouth, and all of a sudden Colonel Taylor
looked around at him--they were talking to some people--and he said,
"Swaggart, what's that in your mouth?" Swaggart said--(swallows)--
"Nothing, Pa." (laughs) That's the story. So, uh, Colonel Taylor was
a, uh, brilliant man. I read one letter that he wrote because this
was back, uh, ten years ago let's say or fifteen years ago--after Daddy
died--there were some books of Daddy's, uh, uh, little shelf
where he
used to sleep before he died, and in one of the books, I just pulled
it out just to look at it and there was a letter sticking out of it.
And, uh, I should have saved it or taken it, but I didn't. I just put
it right back where it belonged because I said it's not, even though
it's mine, it's not mine. And I opened the letter, and it was a letter
that he had written to one of his daughters. He had eight children.
I have eight children. He was born February 12, 1830. I was born
February 11, 1930; a hundred years later less one day. Mother couldn't
wait--they were trying to make her wait so that I could be born on his
birthday--but anyway, he had eight children. But he was--he--they say
he used to make his, uh, daughters cry and, uh, uh, because he would
be fussy about things. This letter proved it. It was a two- or three-
page letter in his handwriting, and he
was fussing at her, criticizing
her for naming her dog. He said, "Dogs should not have human names."
And he didn't say it--that wasn't his language--but it was the most
scathing, uh, sarcastic, mean letter I ever wrote--read in my life
that, that how dare she name a dog after a person. And that was the
only remembrance I have of a firsthand encounter with why he made his
daughters cry. Now he had another son named Edmund Taylor, named after
him, that loved to write. He was a poet and was an amazing man and,
uh, wrote a book of poetry that he never told Colonel Taylor about, but
I saw one photograph of Colonel Taylor with all of his daughters around
him--it was an outside shot--loving him just like they always did.
They always just loved him to death because he was such a powerful,
wonderful man for them, and over in a distance was my Great-Great Uncle
Edmund Taylor with his legs crossed with a book on his lap scowling as
they were having their picture taken. So, you know, he can't please
everybody, but he had all these children and they took very good care
of him. They all inherited money. One-sixteenth of what he had left
was enough that Col--that Edmund Taylor, the one that was the poet,
uh, was able to live comfortably into his nineties anywhere he pleased
and actually came to the farm when Granny inherited the farm, and they
talked her into making a tennis court next to the
dance hall so they
had a party house because he loved parties. And he had a great big
camp on the river, Kentucky River, a big eddy, and they said there were
just as many matches in, uh, in the woods and in the grass as there
were on the tennis court--(laughs)--because he had all his friends out
there partying. He supposedly was a bastard, but as it turned out when
he was dying up showed, up came his wife of eighty years old who was
blind and also an old girlfriend. (laughs) He was lying there in bed
like this. So anyway, there were great stories.
TROLAND: Who, whose wife appeared? Was that Colonel Taylor's wife?
HAY: No. This was Edmund Taylor's.
TROLAND: Edmund Taylor's wife?
HAY: Yeah. They didn't know he was married.
TROLAND: The son of Colonel Taylor? Colonel E. H. Taylor Junior, yes.
HAY: Yeah, but they had a whole--but I knew some of his daughters
because Granny would take me down to visit them, and one of his sons,
Dr. Price, uh, when I was five years old, uh, I used to have to go
him. And he had a beard and he chewed tobacco and he was sitting,
and she said, "Go kiss Uncle Price." Uh, uh, but he was married to one
of my, uh, his daughters, and I'd have to go like this. I remember
doing it, but I remember he was laid out. You know, that was my
first funeral when I was five years old to see this--"Go see him." You
know, I had to go in and see Dr. Price. And, uh, so they were all
in Frankfort, most of them, and, uh, Aunt Juliet lived over on Wapping
Street in one of the mansions. It's a gorgeous place. It's on the
corner. It's got gorgeous gardens, and we used to go there to visit
her. So I was part of that family from the time I was five years old
on, and I'll never forget I used to have to take care of the house when
Mother and Daddy lived in Chicago and I was down a year earlier or two
years earlier to live in Frankfort with my other grandmother. I had to
go out to the house to check it
out, and I remember going upstairs and
there was a big photograph of Colonel Taylor in his chair. And I said,
"Someday, I'm going to be exactly like you." I was fifteen years old.
Of course, I wasn't, um, because, uh, I don't make my daughters cry or
any--(laughs)--you know, and, uh--
TROLAND: From what you know and what you've heard about Edmund Taylor
Junior, how would you summarize who he was?
HAY: I would say that he was an extraordinary man that I would have,
uh, probably gotten along pretty well with because I wouldn't have
been afraid of him. Um, my father was, had the powerful presence of
Colonel Taylor. Um, uh, I wouldn't have been afraid of him. I would
have probably not talked a lot around him because he was, um,
pretty much controlled things. Um, I would say he was a perfectionist.
He was a, uh, visionary. He, um, well, the, uh, the people that own
this distillery, uh, Old Taylor Distillery, before it was bought by,
uh, Buffalo Trace just recently had a big ad in the paper one time that
showed Colonel Taylor with an axe chopping up barrels of whiskey because
he had tasted the whiskey and he didn't like it, and he was with a
temper. So I think he had a great temper. I think he was articulate.
He, uh, he was also a great entertainer just like my grandmother was,
and I have a picture of him entertaining--or--and I have a plaque which
is at the farm. I didn't bring
it. Uh, at Scotland Farm--uh, that's
signed by all the presidents of these universities as the master of,
um--what's the word when you entertain people? The master of--
TROLAND: Ceremonies?
HAY: No. Master of, uh--whatever he was, he was, they loved him because
he could entertain and he would, um--I can't remember the word now,
but it says master--but here are the lists and the signatures of all
these presidents of universities because he would have people from all
over the United States come and stay with him. And he would entertain
them, and he loved, you know, books and he read. And one of the best
I ever heard about marketing was he had started Old Taylor Whiskey and
he wanted to be in several towns. He wanted to be in
New York, Boston
and, uh, New York, Boston and one other--Philadelphia--and so what he
did--and in the old days, you didn't have garbage pickup like you do
today. You had barrels around everywhere and whatever they were, you
know, and trash was out--and so he had three crews of men go--one to
Philadelphia, one to New York and one to Boston, and he sent carloads
of empty Old Taylor Whiskey bottles to each of those cities. These
teams of men unloaded the boxcars, and at night, they would go around
the city in the areas where the business sections were, like on Wall
Street, and they would place these empty bottles in the trash with the
showing. And then during the daytime and night, they would go
to every bar, every tavern in every one of these three cities and ask
for Old Taylor Whiskey, and when the person would say, "I don't have
any," they'd walk out. Within a relatively reasonable time, he had
established a major market in the three major cities of the United
States at that time, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, because of his
marketing skills.
TROLAND: What epoch was this specifically? Do you remember?
HAY: What what?
TROLAND: What epoch?
HAY: This is when he first--
TROLAND: Uh, this story that you tell about, uh, Chicago--
HAY: Well, this is when he first started the distillery, Old Taylor
Distillery back in the 1800s.
TROLAND: It sounds like he was a formidable man, although curiously
enough not even E.H. Taylor Jr. apparently had enough whiskey to buy
himself an election on the Kentucky State
Senate. Too bad.
HAY: Well, he, uh, uh, to keep--uh, he didn't have enough money to buy
the votes for the, what do you call it, the, keeping the Frankfort
capital there, but he was a senator many times. Now this was one of
his first bottles, and every one of his whiskey bottles always said
"signed, sealed and delicious" but he said, "I would not put my name on
anything unless it was the finest whiskey." And it was Old Taylor.
TROLAND: Do you know roughly when that whiskey jug was produced?
HAY: This says "Distillers, Frankfort, Kentucky." I'd say in the 1800s,
but it's a beautiful old bottle. I don't know how I got a hold of that.
TROLAND: Tell us about the other bottle you have there.
HAY: All right. This other bottle is interesting because, uh, uh, I
bourbon. I don't drink a lot of it or I don't function. Uh, I
love--I've never seen a drink that I didn't like, but I don't drink a
lot because I saw what happens to all of those, the, the ancestors who
drank. Colonel Taylor, by the, um, by the way, did not drink.
TROLAND: Colonel Taylor did not drink at all?
HAY: Yet, when he was sitting in the, uh, church where he went to church
every Sunday, one time the minister railed against whiskey. He quietly
got up with his family, walked out in the middle of the sermon he
walked down the street and sat down at the church down the street and
never went back to that other one again. Uh, ask the question again so
I'll know what you said.
TROLAND: Tell us a little bit about the bottle, the other bottle that
you have there.
HAY: Oh, this bottle here?
HAY: All right. Uh, when we were dividing up the stuff at the farm, uh,
back in '95 or something like this,
uh, my sister and brother didn't
drink and don't. They're teetotalers. So here were these bottles of
whiskey--Daddy used to have whiskey bottled for his management up at
the Elite Club in Chicago and, uh, called Members' Reserve which was a
very fine whiskey--and all that, and there were several bottles of Old
Taylor Whiskey. That's magic. Did you see that?
TROLAND: I did not see that. The bottle appeared to move, but I could
not see how it moved.
HAY: (laughs) Anyway so here is all this whiskey, and Mary Bell and John
said, "We don't want any of that." And I said, "Okay. I'll take it."
And so in there were two or three bottles, unopened, with a beautiful
packaging around it of the
original whiskey, and, um, this whiskey
was bottled--this particular bottle--was bottled in 1916--1914. 1914.
And I was coming out to Buffalo Trace to meet with, uh, with, uh, Mark
Brown, and, uh, I had met with him once before and they said, "We're
trying to find one of the original labels because we are going to make
Old Taylor Whiskey a top-shelf whiskey." Well, he explained to me top-
shelf means the expensive whiskeys are on the top shelf. On the bottom
shelf are the cheap whiskeys, so when you go into a liquor store, if
you want to get something expensive you reach high. And so he said,
"It'll be a top-shelf whiskey, but we want to find the label. We can't
find a label." Well, I had one bottle, and
he said, "No, that's not it.
There's one older than that." So my wife, Joanna, who knows all and
sees all, literally, uh, said, "Taylor, I think you've got a bottle up
in the, stored in the attic under the eaves," and I said, "Well, Joanna,
my knees don't feel so good this morning. Would you want to go in
there"--(laughs)--"and look and see before we're going to come out here
and see Mark again?" And so I walked in and put this down on his desk,
and I've never seen a man so happy in my life because there was Colonel
Taylor's image, that side. Voila, on the other side was a sketch of
Buffalo Trace Distillery right here, and this was the label that he was
looking for. So now he knows how to design his label using this as a
basis for it or an
idea and, uh, for the new brand of Old Taylor.
TROLAND: Tell us about the vest you're wearing.
HAY: Oh, uh, Colonel Taylor was a very well-dressed man. He was
extraordinarily well-dressed. They said he had a cane for every hour
of the day, and he had a suit for every hour. He used to change,
as I said, he used to change clothes several times depending on what
the occasion was, and he had, uh, uh, vests. And we have, up in the
attic at Scotland
Farm, we have, um, an old cedar closet, and I would
think by now the cedar has worn out and the moths would have eaten it
up. But there were all of his suits. Uh, like this suit here he had
on. I've got this one. I brought it down to Buffalo Trace for their
celebration for buying the, uh, new, the whiskey brand just recently,
but that suit's hanging in the attic at Scotland Farm and several other
ones; beautiful, elegant stuff. But also hanging there are all these
vests. He loved vests, and they were all silk or, uh, and fancy vests
and, uh, so I took several of them. One's down on display down there,
uh, but this one, uh, I had at home, and it has--this is one of his
vests, and it's got his label in the back. What was the year? I think
it was 1911 or something like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was 1916.
HAY: Nineteen-sixteen?
HAY: Nineteen-sixteen, nineteen-sixteen on the label, Colonel E.H.
Taylor, and, uh, this is one of the vests that he would have worn.
It's very pretty because it's got these button on it, so I just put
it on this morning and thought I would use it for the interview. I've
never worn it before. This is the first time, so at least I know that
he was about my size. I know that he had broad shoulders and was a
powerful man.
He wasn't maybe as tall as I am, uh, but he was just a,
just a powerhouse. He was mentally a powerhouse and he was physically
a powerhouse. He had, he was--what's the word--indefatigable. He was
tireless. The man could do several things at once, and, uh, and he
was able to, uh, um--interestingly enough he, uh, at one time was, uh,
out of money. We call it bankrupt today, but he didn't go bankrupt.
But he owed all this money--and I don't know whether it was at this
distillery or the one down there in Millville--but he knew that his
creditors were going to close him down and take over. So he left
his son, Swaggart, sitting behind his desk, and he left town, went to
Europe. And so just like in the movies here came all these creditors
banging on the door, you know,
holding their notes and everything that
he owed, and, um, they said, "Where is he? Where is he?" And said,
"He's in Europe." And they said, "What are you doing here?" He says,
"I'm his son. I'm speaking for him." And, um, he said, uh, they said,
well, uh--he said, "He's left me with a proposition for you. If you
will all sign this he will pay you this amount of money on a certain
time, but he will do this and he will do that." And so they looked at
it, they put it down and said, "How do we know he's going to live up
to this?" Swaggart looked at them and said, "Because he's my father."
So it puts tears in your eyes just thinking about it. A man who had
to fight all of his life up and down. He was, and when he was, in
nine--when he was
forty-seven--and these articles are in the scrapbook,
interviews in the newspaper.
TROLAND: When E.H. Taylor Jr. was forty-seven, that is?
HAY: Yeah. When he was forty-seven years old, he was out of money
again, had to sell everything, and they asked him why he had lost
all of his money. He said, "Well"--and I'm not going to use his
words because I don't remember his words--he said, "I put in the most
up-to-date equipment"--because he was known for being the father of
bourbon whiskey, of fine bourbon whiskey--he said, "I put in the finest
equipment," and he said, "The economy went down. We had a depression.
I couldn't sell my whiskey and I owed this money. That's it." But
when things came back, he had warehouses of whiskey,
warehouses. He
couldn't sell them because everybody had whiskey, and so in those
days a lot of the whiskey was poison. You know, it was bad. He was
the first person to get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. He
never--nobody else got it in whiskey. He, we have a plaque. The Good
Housekeeping seal of approval, he got the, uh, certificate.
TROLAND: What epoch was that, that he received that certificate?
HAY: That was the Colonel Taylor--the Old Taylor Distillery and I'm
not sure whether it was late 1800s or early 1900s. Probably the early
1900s and the reason why is that then he thought, "How am I going to
sell this whiskey?" Just like how was he going to introduce it to New
York, Chicago and, you know, and putting these bottles in the Wall
Street trash cans, you know, and the wealthy guys come suddenly asking
for them. He thought, "What am I going to do with this whiskey?" Well,
two things were important to him; pure whiskey and he was trying--oh,
and also these whiskey makers were
selling warehouse receipts which
meant that I would come to you and you were a whiskey maker, and
I would say, "I want to buy some of your whiskey." And say, "Okay.
Uh, pay me and I'll give you a receipt, so when you're ready for
it, you just come get it." Well, a lot of times these guys would buy
the warehouse receipts, come to get their whiskey and there wasn't
any in the bot-, in the warehouses. (laughs) You know, so he went
to Washington, and he lobbied them--that's the word they use now. He
didn't use that word. They didn't have that word then, I don't think-
-to have bottled in bond whiskey which meant several things. One, it
meant that that bottle was bonded and had certain purity standards and
also had to be of a certain proof so that--I think it was a hundred
proof. I'm not sure--and was
locked in a warehouse with a federal seal
on it so that they were guaranteed that every time a bottle of whiskey
went out of that warehouse, the federal government was paid their
whiskey tax. So immediately he was able to trade a weenie for a ham,
as it were. He was able to give the government a way of controlling
the taxes on whiskey, and he was able to guarantee that his whiskey was
in the warehouse and it was pure. So what happened? As soon as that
was passed, his was the first one that was bottled in bond with the
warehouses that way, so the whiskey buyers would come in and know that
the whiskey was there and know it was pure. So he sold his whiskey.
So he was responsible for bottled in bond and the purity food laws and
the Good Housekeeping seal. He was an amazing man.
[Pause in recording.]
TROLAND: How would you summarize in your view E.H. Taylor's greatest
legacy to the bourbon industry?
HAY: Uh, he was known by many as the father of the bourbon industry,
and there were naturally people that started with old stills and
barrels and burning and stuff before Colonel Taylor. I've read the
histories on them and the history of bourbon in several magazines and
books. But he would be known as the father of bourbon whiskey, fine
bourbon whiskey, and also the one that made bourbon whiskey safe to
drink in certain portions, you know. (laughs) Uh, so, uh, I would say
his legacy, uh--but in our family he's, uh, uh, still--what's, a part
of the fabric because I have two sons--both live in Atlanta now--who
have been collecting Colonel Taylor's, uh--not graffiti--um, tokens
off of eBay. Uh,
my son bid, uh, one, Doug--my son, Douglas, bid on,
um, uh, a case of 1916 whiskey and was outbid by the Japanese who--he
was going to keep it in a collection. There was a whole case of it.
This was just recently--but the Japanese will take it and drink it,
you know--(laughs)--they love bourbon whiskey. Maker's Mark used to
be one of their--the one's they liked and then Colonel Taylor's whiskey
was rare, uh, but the whole thing is that, the legacy is that it keeps
going on. I have a friend in Tampa, Florida, who gave me a large, big
bottle that he had saved for me that had, uh--how do you do? That's a
cousin of mine that just walked in, uh, who's also, who looks more like
Colonel Taylor than anybody in the family, so when he comes in you can
look at him. He's got the broad shoulders. He's got the intelligent
face. Uh, he's--(laughs)--real bright, too; very smart. And, uh, he's
my cousin, Richard Taylor, who was named after, uh, probably one of
the Richards from Commodore Taylor. So, uh, but as far as the legacy
that he left, the legacy goes on because here is a bourbon that's now
being bought and is going to be a top-of-the-shelf bourbon again. So
his name goes on way after him, and the quality of the whiskey will
be as good or ever better than it was then. Now he built many of the
buildings here at this distillery, and if you look at them, you'll see
this gorgeous, beautiful architecture even for the warehouses. Uh, uh,
coin corners made out of stone. The entrances where you just roll the
barrels out look like something that somebody would like to have on the
front of their mansion. So he believed that fine whiskey deserved a
environment, and this distillery was, I understood, bought by, uh,
uh, by the, uh, man in, uh, Sazerac, uh, Distillers that owned this and
it's one man that owns them and he's from New Orleans. And he said the
reason he bought it was it was such a beautiful, beautiful distillery.
He bought it not just because of the, uh, left brain, uh, pluses and
minuses, uh, bottom line. He bought it because it inspired him. It
was a gorgeous place.
TROLAND: It's the brand that Sazerac Corporation purchased, is that not
correct? Not the distillery.
HAY: Well, no. Sazerac purchased the distillery, and Mark Brown has
been here for how many years now?
HAY: About ten. Mark Brown who worked for Sazerac, uh, over the years,
uh, who's an Englishman by birth, uh, worked for Sazerac, the one man,
and was put in charge of bringing this distillery up to the standards
that it used to have. Now it's won many awards. Uh, Buffalo Trace,
uh, their whiskeys, um, have won, um, dozens of awards; gold medals and
finest bourbon whiskey for four or five or maybe eight years--I don't
know how long--in the United States, and now they're bringing in Old
Taylor. And I asked Mark Brown, I said, "Mark, what are you going to
do with Old Taylor?" He said, "I'm going to make it the finest whiskey
in America."
TROLAND: So let me ask you this question. Let's look five years down
the road. I know you don't drink too much bourbon, but you walk into a
liquor store. What brand are you going to take?
HAY: Old Taylor.
TROLAND: I suspected that.
HAY: But if you asked me what brand I would have taken five years ago,
ten years ago, uh, it would have been anything but Old Taylor because
it was, uh, not really respected. In fact, the label that they used
misspelled his name, and they also changed the
label and were putting
whiskey, I feel, that was paddle whiskey that's made in a distillery
and they put it in several bottles and put different labels on it,
'cause I bought some of it, took it home, took a taste [gestures as
though pouring out a bottle] and--
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just going to add something real quick.
[Pause in recording.]
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's more than one expression, won't we just
limit it to one.
HAY: But again, the legacy of Colonel Taylor lives on. It's, it's
more than a legacy. It's a, it's a living, uh, it's a, it's a living
legend. He'll--it's, it's like, uh, Colonel Sanders of Kentucky
Fried Chicken from Corbin. I used to run into him at the airport. I
thought, He looks just exactly like his ads. And a friend of mine,
John Y. Brown, is the one that put him on the map with Kentucky Fried
Chicken--not a friend, but an acquaintance--and, uh, Colonel Taylor
is the same way. Uh, but, uh, uh, Colonel Sanders was taken off the
of, of the Kentucky Fried Chicken, and they tried to do it their
way which was the corporate way and they were losing a lot of business.
They were going down the drain. It had no romance. What do they
do? Hey, Colonel Sanders, come back here. They put his face up again.
They started marketing Colonel Sanders, and now it's up there as one
of the top YUM brands. But the same with Colonel Taylor. Colonel
Taylor is living on just like Colonel Sanders, and this is the--Colonel
Taylor is the whiskey. Colonel Sanders is the chicken. And so I'd
say the legacy is something that, uh, hopefully will go on for many
generations and warm the, the, um, the, uh, cockles or whatever--
(laughs)-- when a person's cold, they can have a sip of bourbon. Um,
uh, back in the old days we used to make, um, um, a good mint julep
with a silver cup. It's hard
to find silver cups anymore, but there's
nothing better than a good mint julep with a good bourbon. And, uh
it's more of a, a sacrament than it is a, a shot of whiskey.
TROLAND: Now there's a bourbon as we know and discussed called Old
Taylor on the market, but there's no bourbon called Old Troland--that's
my name. Does that make you feel superior to me because you have, uh,
a bourbon with your name on it?
HAY: Actually, you know, I feel very humbled. In fact, I don't even
like to talk about being related to this because I would prefer you
just to know me as Taylor, and, uh, uh, if you happened to be drinking
that say, "It's the best whiskey I've ever drank." And I'd say, "Let
me taste it. I'd like to see, you know, what it's like." (laughs) But,
uh, uh, there are so many stories, you know, they just keep popping
up and up and up, but, um, uh, I would say that Daddy was very proud
of it. He--like I said, he wanted to buy a distillery, but instead
he bought the house with his money, savings, and paid his brothers and
sisters their share so he could
have the house. And they, he traded
land that they owned in different places, uh, so he could maintain the
old house. So consequently, the house has been handed down, and it's,
uh, again was not Colonel Taylor's home but it was his daughter's home-
-granddaughter's home--and it was bought with the last drop of Colonel
Taylor's whiskey.
TROLAND: No better use for those funds, I imagine, than that?
HAY: No. And it's on the National Historical Register. The house is
gorgeous. You ought to see it sometime. You'd enjoy it. It's, um,
it's a, it's a lovely place. It's got some good spirits in it if
you'll pardon the pun.
TROLAND: Well, Taylor, you've been very generous of your time. I thank
you very much for this interview.
HAY: Well, thank you for asking me. I, uh, it's an honor to be able to
talk about it.
[End of interview.]