Bulleit Distillery On Track For 2016 Opening
Bulleit Bourbon — which saw a growth rate of 55 percent in 2014 — is currently made and aged across Kentucky in bits and pieces with the product distilled by a third-party company then sent to warehouses in various locations.
But the bourbon won\’t remain stretched across the state for long.
By late fall next year, Bulleit\’s parent company, Diageo, plans to finish a $115 million project that will join a distillery and six warehouses on one 300-acre property in Shelby County.
\”It is the largest growing brand in North America,\” said Dan Feeser, the chief engineering director in Shelbyville for Diageo. \”The distillery is to support our projected goals over the next few years.\”
On Tuesday, Feeser and other Diageo officials updated the media, elected officials and Shelby County community members on where the project stands since ground was broken in August 2014.
Currently, Diageo is employing about 150 people to work on constructing the distillery and warehouses.
But in a few months, the number of employees — about 90 percent of which are Kentucky residents — will peak at about 200 workers, Feeser said. Once the project is finished, the distillery will employ about 30 people.
Feeser said one warehouse has already been completed and now holds about 40,000 barrels of bourbon. It is expected to be filled to capacity — 55,000 barrels — by mid-November, as aging bourbon is consolidated from existing warehouses.
The new warehouses are state-of-the-art, Feeser said, with fans keeping temperatures even inside the building and everything automatically controlled. Two other warehouses are currently under construction, and a fourth should break ground by the end of the month.
Also under construction is a distillery with a 70-foot tower for a still that will produce the full line of Bulleit brands along with several other bourbons, including I.W. Harper, Feeser said.
\”We have the capability to make Kentucky bourbon in this distillery,\” Feeser said. \”I can\’t imagine how many formulas will come out of it.\”
Diageo has taken environmental impact into consideration and has spent between $2 million and $3 million to ensure the distillery remains environmentally-friendly, Feeser said.
The company has worked with the county to create a natural conservation zone on about 100 acres circling the property and plans to speak with local farmers about using bourbon byproduct as cattle feed to reduce farmers\’ costs and recycle waste.
Despite Shelby County being a moist county — with alcohol sales permitted only in Shelbyville and a few wet precincts — Feeser said the Bulleit project has received support from the entire community.
\”From the first day I stepped foot in Shelby County, it was obvious to me that the residents here have a passion for their community and have a strong sense of working together for the good of one another,\” Feeser said. \”That community mindset is making a difference to this project.\”
However, Shelby County\’s moist status has created issues for giving typical tours, which often include a tasting.
Pauline Rooney, the vice-president of distillation, maturation and engineering for Diageo North America, said as of now, the company is focused on opening the distillery, but leaders have not ruled out looking into the idea of adding a visitors center at a later date.
\”There are a lot of moving parts on that,\” Rooney said. \”It\’s not just us. It\’s the county, it\’s the state. We\’re still trying to figure a way through it ourselves.\”
Until then, guests can continue to visit the Bulleit Frontier Bourbon Experience at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Shively. The experience opened in September 2014 as part of a $10 million investment that included a visitors center; a bottling line for Bulleit and other brands and a small craft still.
Reach reporter Bailey Loosemore at 502-582-4646 or email@example.com.