By Sam Wildow
TROY — Two locals have revived a 155-year-old whiskey tradition after recently launching Hayner Distilling earlier this summer.
Greg Taylor and Andrew Wannemacher, co-owners of Hayner Distilling, formed their business after they were inspired by the legacy of the original Hayner Distilling Co. in Troy, which was founded in 1866 by Lewis Hayner and closed in 1920 following prohibition. They began their journey to welcome back the historic brand first in 2018.
“We’ve been friends for a long, long time, and we’ve done the (Kentucky Bourbon Trail) probably five years in a row, and we both knew the history of Hayner,” Wannemacher said. “So one night, we got to thinking how cool it would be to revive the brand.” They started searching to see if the trademark was available, and it took over two years to obtain all the permits and financing.
“We just kept going forward, waiting for a hurdle that would prevent us from doing it, and we never found it,” Wannemacher said.
The Troy-Hayner Cultural Center also helped Taylor and Wannemacher get the taste right through use of one of its few original Hayner Distilling Co. whiskey bottles kept at the center.
“We took a sample of original Hayner whiskey, a 120-year-old whiskey,” Taylor said.
Taylor explained they used a syringe to go through the cork and extract a sample of the whiskey, which was then analyzed by Bardstown Bourbon Company. It was found to be a common mash bill of 70% corn, 20% rye, and 10% barley.
“We came up with a blend that matches that taste,” Taylor said. “It’s a very high corn, high sweet bourbon, so there’s four different bourbons we put together to sort of match the taste of the original Hayner whiskey.”
Taylor and Wannemacher partnered with Bardstown Bourbon Company to create the first Hayner whiskey blend in over 100 years. The blend that the new Hayner Distilling offers is a four-bourbon blend that contains 40% of a 13-year-old Kentucky bourbon, blended with four-year bourbons and a little three-year bourbon to finish it off, according to Hayner Distilling’s website.
Bardstown Bourbon Company creates the blend and then ships it to Hayner Distilling, where they bottle and label the bourbon under their brand.
“We do bottle about twice a week, and we do have family who come in to help us, which has been amazing,” Taylor said.
In addition to bringing back the taste of the original bourbon whiskey, Taylor and Wannemacher hope to reignite the legacy of the original brand.
“Hayner’s got a great story,” Wannemacher said. He said, prior to the 1920 the National Prohibition Act, they set up distribution warehouses across the country, and they would fulfill orders through the mail.
“We’re hoping to bring that story back,” Wannemacher said. “Both of us are really community-minded, so the whole idea of doing this was that we could make Troy proud of its heritage.”
When the new Hayner Distilling launched in June of this year, they sold 1,500 bottles the first day. Hayner Distilling’s straight bourbon whiskey’s retail price is $59.95, which was set by the state as a luxury brand. It is available at state liquor stores in the Miami Valley, as well as at Hayner Distilling’s location on Saturdays between noon and 3 p.m. Hayner Distilling is located at 619 Lincoln Ave. in Troy.
According to Hayner Distilling’s website, the taste notes include “a bright cherry, graham cracker, and a touch of black pepper finishing with rich caramel and deep oak. A smooth, balanced mouthfeel builds to a lasting finish of sweetness and baking spice.”
For more information about Hayner Distilling, visit www.haynerdistilling.com.