Our Place in Bourbon History
When visitors walk into the Old Talbott Tavern, there’s a feeling about the place. It’s well kept, but the passage of time is evident in a few creaking floorboards. There’s an air about the place that speaks of people who have come and gone, spending time in the pub and retiring to their rooms before an early morning departure.
The old stone reminder of Bardstown’s beginnings still welcomes visitors to the bustling downtown area. Since the late 1700s, the Old Talbott Tavern, on Court Square, has provided shelter, food and drink to Kentucky travelers.
The Old Talbott Tavern is said to be the oldest western stagecoach stop in America as the westward expansion brought explorers from the east into Kentucky.
One of the most famous visitors of the Old Talbott Tavern was Daniel Boone. In April of 1792, he was subpoenaed to give his deposition at the stone Tavern on the court square. At this time, the courthouse was not used because it was under construction.
William Heavenhill, an early owner of the property on which Heaven Hill Distillery is located, was a frequent patron of the Tavern. “Mr. Ed” Shapero, who organized and started up Heaven Hill after prohibition, often had lunch at the Tavern. The father of the present owners of the Tavern was Mr Ed’s paperboy just before WWII.
William Samuels and Leslie Samuels, who were Master Distillers of Maker’s Mark, were good friends of the Talbott’s and valued customers of the Tavern. William Samuels and Leslie Samuels are the father and grandfather of the current Maker’s Mark president, Bill Samuels.
A few families have owned the Old Talbott Tavern since its construction in the 1770s. T.D. Beam, brother of Jim Beam, purchased the Old Talbott Tavern from the Talbott’s in 1916. He continued to run the establishment until 1926. Tom Moore family purchased the Tavern from T.D. Beam in 1926. They owned it until 1964.
On March 7, 1998, a new chapter was written in the Old Talbott Tavern’s history. The Tavern suffered from a devastating fire. An early morning blaze destroyed the roof and most of the second floor. The main floor suffered from smoke and water damage. The well-known murals suffered from heavy damage and have not yet been restored. The Tavern underwent a long period of rebuilding and finally reopened its doors in November 1999.