James Thompson was born in County Derry, Northern Ireland in 1855. He came to America at the age of 16 and became very successful at selling whiskey to wholesalers and large retailers on a brokerage basis. However, he dreamed of venturing into the distilling business on his own.
Thompson began his search for the perfect location to produce bourbon and discovered the Monarch Distillery on the banks of the Ohio River in Owensboro, KY. High quality corn and limestone water were readily available here, as well as easy transportation via the Ohio River. Thompson purchased the distillery and changed the name to Glenmore Distillery, named for the Glenmore Castle near his birthplace in Ireland.
After World War I, Frank B. Thompson and James P. Thompson, sons of the founder, joined the company. Over 1,000 brands existed at Glenmore by September of 1919 — the beginning of Prohibition. Glenmore was fortunate to be one of four distilleries in the country allowed to operate on a limited scale for medicinal necessity. When Prohibition was repealed on 1933, Glenmore entered a new era of distilling with over 31,000 barrels of aged whiskey and the ability to make more.
Surviving tragedies such as flood and fire, the distillery went on to fill its two millionth barrel of whiskey in 1946. In 1973 they were producing 540 barrels a day. When distilling operations ceased in 1993 – bottling and warehousing continued at Glenmore.
In recent years, the distillery has been through many ownership and name changes. In March of 2009, the Sazerac Company purchased the distillery and reprised the name Glenmore Distillery. Glenmore boasts one of the largest and most modern bottling facilities in the country and continues to be a sizable employer and fixture in the city Owensboro.