Castle and Key unlocks new distillery experience in Frankfort

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A new distillery opening in Frankfort looks like a page out of a fairy tale book.

“There's this moment of awe when you come around the corner,” said Will Arvin, part-owner of Castle and Key. “You see this castle, and it smacks you right in the face.”

Castle and Key is a castle built in the 1800s in Frankfort by famous distiller Col. Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr.

It sat empty before Arvin and his business partner Wes Murry took hold of it, wanting to restore it to its original purpose.

“It has been virtually abandoned since 1972,” Arvin said. “It was in great disrepair.”

The problem was they had a vision without the know-how. That's when they paired the historic castle with a radical idea, according to Master Distiller Marianne Eaves.

“It was a brave choice for Will and Wes to consider a young person as a master distiller and then also to have the courage, I guess, to hire a female in an industry that's so male-dominated,” Eaves said.

“She was young, she was creative, and she was brilliant,” Arvin added. 

They poached Eaves from Brown-Forman and made her one of the very few female master distillers. She took her chemical engineering background, trained under historied distillers and then took the reins at Castle and Key.

The distillery got its name from its water source, which is shaped like a key.

“We were definitely getting excited about her and the opportunity to potentially be able to lure her away, and I remember getting back in the car and thinking there's no way she's going to come,” Murry said. 

“It was a risk, but it was a calculated risk,” Arvin said.

The resurrected castle will open on Wednesday, Sept. 19, for distillery tours.

Castle and Key Gin and Vodka are already on liquor store shelves. The Bourbon and Rye will take some time before they're ready to taste.

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