Medley family continues legacy in local bourbon industry

Green River owes a big part of its distillery history to the Medley family, who kept the stills flowing from 1940-2008.

The Medley family legacy goes back—wayyy back—in Owensboro’s local distilling industry. In fact, John Medley VI moved from Maryland to Washington, KY in 1800 to begin distilling whiskey. He found success in the business and, when he passed away in 1814, his inventory of estate included two stills and 40 mash tubs.

Decades later, in 1901, George Medley learned the distilling trade and moved the family business from Washington, KY to Owensboro. George and his brother Thomas purchased the Daviess County Distillery from the Monarch family.

A massive fire and Prohibition (1920-33) forced the shutdown of the Green River distillery, and its doors were closed for years. In 1940, five Medley sons purchased the long-abandoned Green River Distillery. They rebuilt it and, that same year, Medley Distilling Company was founded. 

As the story goes, the Medley Distilling Company continued to thrive through the 1950s and 60s. Many well-known brands made their way through our distillery during that time, including Wathen’s, Medley Brothers, Old Medley, and Five Brothers. Charles Medley sold the distillery in 2007, and the 2008 recession ended plans for its continued use. The distillery was purchased in 2014, and with Jacob Call and his team on board, whiskey was being distilled once again in 2016.

In 2020, Green River Distilling Co. was revived. And now, the distillery is set to launch its very own Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey this very week.