The History of Old Commonwealth Distillery

History You
Can Taste

Situated at the heart of bourbon history, the Old Commonwealth Distillery houses an exceptional assortment of the world’s most coveted bourbons. Our distillery, steeped in a rich lineage dating back to 1880, originally debuted as the illustrious Hoffman Distillery. It faced a temporary closure during the prohibition era, only to be resurrected under visionary leadership and chart an exciting path forward. This rebirth was marked by the emergence of distinguished brands that are now iconic household names– Ezra Brooks among the most prominent.


As a testament to the resounding success of Ezra Brooks, the distillery was aptly rechristened the Ezra Brooks Distillery in 1968. Although it saw a period of dormancy beginning in 1979, it was a mere four-year interlude before another dramatic chapter unfurled.


In 1983, Julian Van Winkle, a bourbon enthusiast with a deep-seated respect for tradition and quality, purchased the distillery. With its rebirth as the Old Commonwealth, Van Winkle presided over an unparalleled epoch in bourbon history from 1983 to 2002. Unwittingly, he catalyzed a revolution in the collectible bourbon industry, resulting in the release of some of the most desirable and scarce bourbons the world has ever seen.


As we embarked upon a new era in 2019, the Old Commonwealth Distillery transitioned to new ownership. The guiding purpose behind this transition was a dedicated commitment to revive our remarkable, sought-after bourbon. Our mission is not only to honor the prestigious quality of our past but also to surpass it, propelling Old Commonwealth Distillery into a future teeming with unsurpassed refinement and distinction.

The history

The Beginning

In 1880, the seed of a remarkable legacy was sown with the establishment of the Hoffman Distillery by S. Hackley, who soon joined forces with Ike Hoffman to catalyze its future success.

The Purchase

In 1916, the baton of ownership passed to L&E Wertheimer. This pivotal change led to a temporary hiatus during prohibition, during which time the facility was razed.

The Rebuild

Rising from the ashes of prohibition, the distillery was rebuilt under the stewardship of the new owners, Robert and Ezra Ripy, progeny of the legendary Master Distiller, Thomas Ripy. His other two sons would later forge their path, establishing the Ripy Distillery, now celebrated as Wild Turkey.

The Lawsuit Attempt

A monumental event unfolded when Jack Daniels attempted to sue Ezra Brooks Distillery for copyright infringement, alleging their label was uncannily similar. In an unprecedented victory, this marked the FIRST instance when a small distillery triumphed over a national behemoth.

The Ezra Brooks Brand

At this juncture, the distillery was zealously producing Ezra Brooks, Old Hoffman, and Old Spring at an impressive rate of approximately 300 bushels per day. This vibrant period was punctuated by the distillery adopting a new identity, the "Ezra Brooks Distillery," in tribute to its star brand's soaring success.

The Struggle

In a twist of fate during one of the most challenging epochs in bourbon history, the distillery was purchased by Medley, who was subsequently assimilated by Glenmore.

The End

An interlude followed as the distillery shuttered its operations, remaining dormant for four years until it was resuscitated by Julian Van Winkle. The distillery was reborn under a new moniker, the Old Commonwealth Distillery.

Van Winkle's tenure is remembered as a defining period in the collectible bourbon industry. Unwittingly, he steered the distillery towards the creation of some of the world's most elusive and treasured bourbons.

The Revival

2019 heralded a new chapter for Old Commonwealth with the arrival of the new owners. Driven by a fervor for collecting rare and exquisite bourbons, the family purchased the Old Commonwealth Distillery, igniting a renewed era of bourbon craftsmanship and legacy.


2021 Glensboro Rd.
Lawrenceburg, KY 40342