Rrossville Union
Becoming Whiskey City Becoming Whiskey City

BECOMING WHISKEY CITY: THE HISTORY OF LAWRENCEBURG AND AMERICAN RYE

In 1802, just as whiskey consumption in America reached an all-time high, the small town of Lawrenceburg, IN appeared along the banks of the Ohio River. For decades, whiskey production had been thriving in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and, most recently, Kentucky. The next year, the Louisiana Purchase would expand trade into New Orleans, allowing distillers to ship barrels of whiskey to the West and South by steamboat.

Within the next century, Lawrenceburg would become known as Whiskey City—the rye-distilling capital of the world. Looking back, the events surrounding Lawrenceburg’s birth seem almost serendipitous. America was rife with opportunity for whiskey distillers, especially those with access to the mighty Ohio River.

THE TOWN OF LAWRENCEBURG IS ESTABLISHED

A ONE-HORSE OPERATION

The first mash bills from Lawrenceburg in 1809 were produced in a grist mill powered by a single blind horse. This crude method of grinding grain meant the original Lawrenceburg distillery was limited to two barrels of whiskey per week. By contrast, George Washington’s distillery at Mount Vernon had already reached 11,000 gallons a year almost a decade earlier in 1797.

Still, Lawrenceburg was poised for opportunity. Being close to New Orleans trade routes meant that it was a prime location for distilling whiskey. With Kentucky focused on distilling bourbon, Lawrenceburg was primed to take over as the new leader in rye whiskey. With rich farmland on one side and the Ohio River on the other, it was only a matter of time before more Lawrenceburg distilleries began cropping up.

GEORGE ROSS ESTABLISHES ROSSVILLE DISTILLERY

ROSSVILLE DISTILLERY: HISTORY IN THE MAKING

In 1847, amidst the golden age of rye, Lawrenceburg’s most important distillery opened its doors. Its name was Rossville Distillery, and for nearly two centuries it has produced some of the finest rye whiskey the world has ever seen. Considered one of Lawrenceburg’s original distilleries, it is the only one still producing whiskey today.

Rossville Distillery was founded by George Ross, who selected uncommonly ideal ground on which to build a distillery. Rossville was built directly atop an aquifer, providing the distillery with limestone-filtered water. This prevented sulfur and iron compounds from negatively impacting the whiskey’s taste, resulting in a bold, spicy flavor no other rye producer could replicate.

LAWRENCEBURG IS WELL ON ITS WAYN TO BEING KNOWN AS WHISKEY CITY

THE RISE AND FALL OF AMERICA’S SPIRIT

By 1913, America’s demand for rye was at an all-time high. Of the approximately 140 million gallons of liquor consumed that year, 135 million of them were whiskey. But in 1920, Prohibition brought American rye production to a grinding halt. A few distilleries were allowed to produce medicinal alcohol, resulting in over six million whiskey prescriptions for people who claimed to be “sick.”

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the demand for rye and other American whiskeys declined as new generations discovered vodka, gin, and wine. Many whiskey distilleries closed their doors, but the original Rossville Distillery remained open, diversifying into other industries while still methodically working to perfect Lawrenceburg’s historic mash bills.

A CRAFT COCKTAIL REVIVAL BEGINS

A NEW GOLDEN AGE OF RYE

Rossville Union Master Crafted Straight Rye Whiskeys are a celebration of the historic Rossville Distillery and Lawrenceburg’s mastery of rye whiskey. With tremendous respect for America’s original spirit, we set out to create a rye that combines new American craftsmanship with the soul of 1847. The result is unmistakably bold and unapologetically spirited. The new golden age of rye has officially arrived.

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