Castle & Key was built by thoughtful people who had the courage to follow their convictions.
In 1887, legendary distiller Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr built a new kind of distillery destination in Millville, Kentucky. The groundbreaking site featured unique architectural elements including a castle, a classical springhouse, and sunken gardens. What he built became the birthplace of bourbon tourism.
But over the next century, the space changed owners and occupants, eventually falling into disrepair. By the time Castle & Key’s founders rediscovered it, the property was in ruins. People told them that it was too far gone to resurrect. But they forged ahead anyway.
Inspired by their distillery site’s legacy of trailblazing, our founders dreamt up something big: to create an immersive distillery experience by combining thoughtfully made spirits with a property where discerning tastemakers could experience history in motion.
All Castle & Key spirits are a testament to our principled approach. Locally-sourced ingredients inspire our process and our product. We make everything that we sell, from carefully selected grains. We do not use bulk vodka to create our spirits. We choose to do things the thoughtful way – even though it’s not the easy way – because waiting to sell products we make is worth it. And that matters.
Castle & Key isn’t just a great drink, and it isn’t just an immersive bourbon destination. It’s a new way of thinking founded on courage. It takes courage to make difficult decisions, make things the hard way because it’s the right way, and make change. Live courageously, follow your crazy convictions.
We don’t follow the status quo.
We will never compromise the Castle & Key experience.
Raised and educated in Kentucky, Marianne’s rise in the spirits industry is a product of dedication, hard work, and natural born talent. After graduating with a chemical engineering degree, Marianne pursued her passion for fine spirits, working her way up the ranks at a global spirits company until she earned the title of Master Taster.
In 2015, she was sought out by Will and Wes to be their partner and the Master Distiller of Castle & Key Distillery. After her first visit, the decision to join this bold team was clear. She would leave her comfortable corporate job and strike out to fulfill a shared vision.
Barnes is a leader in the new generation of spirits professionals shaping the industry. Her process and vision are informed by her uncompromising commitment to quality, authenticity, and innovation.
Will is a lifelong Kentucky resident and a career lawyer, until he founded Castle & Key Distillery. His experience as an attorney with numerous construction and real-estate projects made him well-suited for the challenges of resurrecting this bourbon icon.
In 2014, Will left his law practice behind to pursue his dream of owning a Kentucky bourbon distillery. He discovered this site online, and, as luck would have it, it was a thirty-minute drive from his home in Nicholasville. One visit, and he fell in love.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Wes came to Kentucky in 2011. His background is varied having worked in the fields of real estate, consulting, and finance. When presented with the opportunity to partner with Will Arvin in bringing the historic Old Taylor Distillery back to life, he couldn’t turn it down.
The opportunity to revive a historic property from ruin, to launch a new set of brands, and to build a company around a quickly growing beverage category was too great of an enticement.
Louisville businessman Brook Smith joined the developing partnership behind Castle & Key in 2016. Smith’s foray in the food and beverage industry began over a decade ago when he purchased iconic Louisville restaurant 610 Magnolia, bringing Chef Edward Lee from New York to Kentucky.
Smith brings to the project his business acumen as well as informed hospitality experience and innovative vision. Beyond Castle & Key, Brook, in partnership with others, just released their sixth vintage of a Napa Valley boutique cabernet, Post Parade, which has consistently received acclaim from California to Kentucky.