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1844

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James Watt Kelly is born February 26, 1844 in Waterford, Ireland.


1863

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At age 19, Kelly boards a transatlantic vessel and emigrates to Nashville, Tennessee by way of New York, New York. His travels expose him to the world’s most renowned spirits.


1865

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Kelly travels to Chattanooga, Tennessee to collect a debt and decides to stay in the Scenic City.


1866

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Kelly establishes his name in the distillery trade as J.W. Kelly & Company. He sells alcohol through at least twelve different labels.


1880

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Kelly dominates the trade and becomes proprietor of a popular saloon on Market Street in downtown Chattanooga.


1907

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Kelly dies from extended illness March 21, 1907.


1910

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Production continues until Tennessee’s Attorney General takes J.W. Kelly & Co. to court for trading alcohol in a dry county.


1915

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The first Prohibition law in the history of the United States passes in Tennessee, making it a misdemeanor to sell alcoholic beverages in taverns and stores. The market is overtaken by competitors in years following Prohibition repeal due to the deaths of Kelly’s business partners.


2017

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Distribution of J.W. Kelly’s bourbon is dormant until 2017, when the recipe is revived and resumes production.