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Holladay History


It all started with the limestone spring. First discovered on the land that would become Weston, Missouri, by Lewis and Clark during their 1804 expedition, a pure limestone spring was a rarity whose potential was recognized by an enterprising young businessman by the name of Benjamin Holladay. After a first venture on the site as a meat-packing house, Benjamin Holladay and his brother, Major David Holladay, divined an even greater purpose for that limestone spring: Bourbon. Together, they opened a distillery on the site in 1856. Benjamin Holladay went on to great fame and fortune as the “Stagecoach King”, running the stagecoach lines from Missouri to the West Coast that later became the Wells Fargo Express, and ultimately acquiring the Pony Express as well. His coach lines brought him into close counsel with everyone from Joseph Smith and the Mormons to President Abraham Lincoln, and he was named Weston’s first postmaster.

He was a serial entrepreneur who owned businesses including saloons, hotels, and silver mines, and by 1864 was the largest individual employer in the United States. The Holladay Distillery underwent its own changes as decades passed, changing ownership and names a number of times before ultimately becoming known as McCormick Distilling Company in 1942. Acquired in 1993 by Ed Pechar and Mike Griesser and small group of private investors, the distillery has grown in size and expanded its portfolio of products. In 2016, the distillery commemorates its 160 years of rich history by going back to its roots and once again bearing the proud name of Holladay Distillery, operated by McCormick Distilling Company. For the first time in 30 years, the distillery is again distilling bourbon on site. The same 160-year-old recipe. The same mid-1800s stillhouse building. And the same limestone spring. History has come full circle at the Holladay Distillery.



“Stagecoach King” Benjamin Holladay and his brother, Major David Holladay, establish the Blue Springs Distillery on the site of a limestone spring first discovered by Lewis and Clark during their expedition in 1804. Holladay’s Best is the first bourbon produced, and the distillery’s name is later changed to the Holladay Distillery.


The distillery is transferred from Benjamin Holladay to his brother, Major David Holladay, under the name of Platte County Hemp Manufacturing and Distilling Company.


After the death of David Holladay in November 1893, the court allows his son-in-law, Thomas Gregory Barton, to continue the manufacturing of whiskey using the name Barton & Holladay.


The distillery is sold to George H. Shawhan on July 18, 1900, after his distillery in Lone Jack, Missouri, is destroyed by fire. The name is changed to the Shawhan Distillery Company.


Isadore Singer and his brother buy the distillery. The name is changed to the Old Weston Distilling Company.


The distillery is renamed McCormick Distilling Company after the rights to the name and formula are purchased from the original McCormick Distilling Company in Waldron, Missouri.


McCormick Distilling Company is purchased by Midwest Grain Products, a company owned by Cloud L. Cray of Atchison, Kansas. The company purchases the distillery primarily to store alcohol in the large empty warehouses due to the threat of impending war in Korea.


A devastating fire nearly destroys the distillery building, the oldest building on the distillery site.


1974-HistoricalRegisterThe original site of the distillery is added to the National Register of Historic Places.


Ed Pechar and Mike Griesser lead a small group of investors in the purchase of McCormick Distilling Company. Under their leadership, the company has doubled the number of employees and has expanded the McCormick family of brands to include such premium products as 360 Vodka, Tequila Rose, and Broker’s Gin.


Mike Griesser passes away. In 2016, the newly renovated stillhouse is dedicated as the Michael S. Griesser Memorial Stillhouse in his memory.


The distillery celebrates its 160 years of rich history by going back to its roots. It is once again known as the Holladay Distillery, operated by McCormick Distilling Company. It is distilling Real Missouri Bourbon on site again for the first time in 30 years. And for the first time in two decades, it is open again to the public for distillery tours and tastings.

See History Unfold At The

Holladay Experience