Nation’s Only Water Powered Distillery at Bond’s Mill

Bonds Mill DistilleryBonds Mill Distillery Can Be Seen at Lower RightBonds Mill Before Becoming a Distillery

Although now overshadowed by the very successful Four Roses Distillery, Anderson County used to be home to the state’s smallest and what was the nation’s only water powered distillery.  Bearing the same name as the road leading to the area, the Bond’s Mill Distillery was once an icon to the county and state.

The Bond’s Mill Distillery started its life all the way back in 1831.  John Hudgins petitioned the county fiscal court to let him build a dam on the Salt River so he could build a water powered grist mill.  With approval, he built the mill and owned it for ten years before it would change hands multiple times before David Bond bought it in 1859.  It stayed in the Bond family for considerable time, and the name, Bond’s Mill, stuck.

During the years, the Bonds would grind grains for all the various distilleries in Anderson County.  Bond’s Mill Road was built five years after the mill was established, and very iconic covered wooden bridges were built over the Salt River to accommodate traveling to the mill.

But it wasn’t until after Prohibition that the mill would see new life as a distillery of its own.  Robert E Johnson, the great grandson of John Bond who is one of the original bourbon distillers in the county, took over the mill and created the Bond’s Mill Distillery.

He refashioned the old mill with iron sides and a power turbine under the floor of the distillery driven by the waterwheel on the Salt River.  The bourbon became very well known across the state and throughout the country.

However, over the years the distillery would eventually be purchased by the predecessors of Four Roses, Old Joe Distillery, which is located along side the Bonds Mill Distillery.  Not much remains of the Bonds Mill Distillery but what does can be clearly seen after crossing the Salt River and turning onto Hickory Creek Road.

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