History Revived: Woodford Reserve Distillery Restores Historic Pepper House

The Pepper House – one of the most historic sites in Kentucky distilling history –  has been restored and transformed into the home of Woodford Reserve’s Personal Selection barrel program.


Dating to 1812, when it was built by early Kentucky distiller Elijah Pepper and his family, the house has been vacant for decades. It sits on a hill overlooking the Woodford Reserve Distillery.


Brown-Forman President and CEO Lawson Whiting called the restoration a milestone day. He announced that the house’s library is being named in honor of Master Distiller Emeritus Chris Morris, who helped grow Woodford Reserve from a tiny startup into a global brand.


“On behalf of Brown-Forman and our 153-year legacy, we sincerely thank Chris for his exceptional leadership and unwavering dedication to the artistry of Kentucky bourbon,” Whiting expressed. “Over his five decades with Brown-Forman, he has consistently demonstrated that there is simply ‘nothing better in the market’.”


The Pepper House, part of which is a log cabin, will serve as a tasting house where individuals can select their own Personal Selection batches of Woodford Reserve. Personal Selections are popular with bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and consumers around the world.


“This home, with its rich heritage and deep-rooted connections to the birth of bourbon in the Commonwealth, stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Pepper family in shaping the bourbon industry as we know it today,” Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall said. “I believe it’s a fitting tribute to reuse this house in modern ways. If these walls could talk, I can imagine the stories they could tell about early distilling life in Kentucky.”


Whiting also announced a $25,000 donation from Brown-Forman to the Woodford County History Room at the Woodford County Library. The donation will support the library’s efforts by establishing a “Digitization Station” for historic documents.