Coyte (H. W.) Manuscript, "History of Kentucky Distilleries"
University Archives and Records CenterLouisville, Kentucky 40292
No restrictions; open to researchers
[Identification of item], H. W. Coyte Manuscript, "History of Kentucky Distilleries", 1940-1987, University Archives and Records Center, University of Louisville, Louisville.
.10 linear foot
Harry Whitney Coyte (1907-1987), a Louisville native and Male High School graduate, earned his living as an employee of American Telephone and Telegraph, but he secured his posterity by his after-hours avocation. Coyte's fascination with the production of Kentucky Bourbon began with a one-day job bottling whiskey as a teenager. In later years, he spent many hours haunting abandoned facilities in search of sales receipts, labels, and other artifacts to add to his collection. It is clear that he also spent a good deal of time making notes on reference works, old newspaper files, and other sources.
Coyte hoped to publish the resulting untitled manuscript, but he died before achieving that aim. His widow reports that Coyte called his life's work "The Master Book of Information of Kentucky Distilleries."
This 151-page typescript, researched and written by Coyte, chronicles the rise and fall of more than 180 distilling operations scattered across thirty-one central Kentucky and Ohio River counties. Brief entries, arranged by county, trace changes of ownership, identify brand names produced by the firms, and document the impact of Prohibition and Repeal on the distilling industry in the 1920s and '30s. Distillery sites are marked on accompanying county maps.
In addition to the directory, the volume includes the author's essays on "The Whiskey Trust in Kentucky," "Kentuck's First (Evan Williams, 1783)," "Steam Whiskey," and "The Mint Julep." Some of these addenda are photocopies of responses he sent to people who sought his help with related research projects.
The Archives learned of the manuscript during the Kentucky Whiskey Industry Oral History Project in 1985. The widow of H.W. Coyte donated the manuscript to the Archives in 1988.
The manuscript dates from 1940 to 1987; Mr. Coyte continued to make additions and revisions until his last few weeks of life. The work occupies 1 linear inch. There are no restrictions on access.
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